Popular Virtual Event Blog Postings

November 19, 2009

This blog's WordPress Dashboard statistics

One of the most enjoyable aspects of virtual events blogging (for me) is the ability to observe which postings “work” and which postings don’t work.  I’ve come to learn that my intuition is often off – postings that I think will generate a lot of traffic don’t, while postings that I thought were marginal become very popular.

For instance, I wrote a posting on the concept of applying Web 2.0 to webinars – it was one of my better pieces of work, but the blogosphere voted with their mouse clicks and (unless we had an issue with counting / undercounting of votes) it didn’t even scratch the Top 10 list of posts [over the past 3 months].

With social media sharing these days, I found that the biggest factor in which posts receive traffic (relative to others) is how and where a given posting is shared.  All it takes is a few retweets from prominent Twitter users (i.e. with 20,000 followers each) to drive a lot of page views to a particular blog posting.  Or, someone posts your blog entry to a sharing site, such as StumbleUpon or digg – you’ll see traffic spike when that occurs.

Another factor is search engine optimization (SEO) – with some of my blog postings, I referenced people, places, certain virtual worlds, etc. – and received search engine traffic from users searching on those terms.

Examples include: Gregory House, My Little Pony (they have a virtual world), Online Dating, Club Penguin.  Some of those blog postings were marginal at best – but they continue to draw traffic to this day – by virtue of having common search engine terms in their content.

Here’s a listing of the Top 5 blog postings (on this blog) over the past 3 months – as measured by the number of page views:

  1. How To Promote Your Virtual Event On Twitter – the key point in this posting – to be able to best leverage Twitter, you need to work hard to build the right “following” first.  This posting received top billing (of traffic) by virtue of tweets/retweets, along with some postings to digg.
  2. Virtual Tradeshow Best Practices: Top 10 Exhibitor Tactics – written back in May, this is always a popular one – it has a fair number of in-bound links and also gets a lot of search engine traffic.
  3. The Advantages Of Virtual Meetings – I provided commentary around a Forbes Insights piece that presented the case for face-to-face meetings.  This gets a lot of its traffic via inbound links.
  4. Virtual Worlds: Where We Were, Where We’re Going, What Does It Mean to YOU? – a guest post by Linda Holroyd, CEO of FountainBlue.  Linda may not have known it at the time, but her posting is an SEO hotbed – it contains lots of relevant terms related to virtual worlds – and, lists the names of many industry executives and entrepreneurs (and their companies).  So this blog posting receives traffic when users search for those individuals’ names or company names.
  5. Hey Kids! I’ve Got a Virtual World For You – it’s like a boomerang (it keeps coming back) – I wrote this back in January and the posting can still make this Top 5 list of the past 3 months.  The reason?  It’s rich in search-friendly terms (Club Penguin, Webkinz, My Little Pony, Cabbage Patch, Beanie Babies, etc.) – I suppose I’ve managed to extend the reach of this blog to parents, who are performing searches on children’s toys!

So there you have it.  I’d love to hear from you – what’s been your favorite blog posting?

Hey Kids! I’ve Got a Virtual World For You

January 14, 2009

As a parent, their existence is virtually unavoidable – the online companion to a kid-themed product.  A Reuters article (published by MSNBC) titled “Disney’s Penguin spreads its wings globally“, describes Disney’s ambitious plans with its Club Penguin virtual world.  Operating out of Sao Paolo, Disney will launch the first non-English version of Club Penguin in Brazil.  There are additional plans to launch in other Latin American countries and France.  Forget the climactic limitations of the species – penguins will now be spanning the globe.

When Disney acquired Club Penguin in 2007, one may have thought that the strategy was around product/brand integration of Disney properties (and characters) with the Club Penguin world and audience.  While that possibility still exists, it seems Disney is looking to Club Penguin as a full-fledged brand in its own right.  Accordinng to the article:

Within two years of launch, Penguin claimed more than 12 million registered users, of which about 900,000 were premium subscribers typically paying $5.95-$6.95 per month for access to additional features and virtual collectibles.

If I’m doing my math right, 900K subscribers paying $6.50 a month (taking the midpoint of the prices quoted) amounts to $70.2MM in revenue per year (wow).  And here’s a clear sign of Disney’s plan to grow Club Penguin as its own brand:

Over the past year, Disney has been busy taking some of its most popular licenses, such as “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Cars” and Tinkerbell and creating virtual worlds around them.

But with Penguin, that strategy has been somewhat reversed, giving the property the chance to leverage Disney’s retail muscle. The recent launch of a toy line includes plush versions of popular characters, a set of figurines as well as an Igloo Playset. The brand was also extended into the lucrative game field with the introduction of “Club Penguin: Elite Penguin Force” for the Nintendo DS.

So if you’re a parent paying for that premium subscription, the next thing your child will be asking for is the Igloo Playset, along with the Club Penguin game for her Nintendo DS.  Or, she’ll be asking you to buy the Nintendo DS so that she can attain Elite Penguin Force status!  Also mentioned in the article is a related, kid-themed virtual world, Webkinz:

Of course merchandising is not new in virtual worlds and has already proven to be far more than a branding play. Toronto-based Ganz is estimated to be earning more than $100 million annually from collectible plush toys and accessories kids buy that allow them to unlock virtual goods online at Webkinz World.

I’ve found Webkinz model to be quite interesting, as they’ve reversed the traditional marketing flow.  Instead of online promotions to drive product sales in the physical world, Webkinz employs small stuffed animals as a physical world “footprint” to drive kids (and their parents) online.  So the physical “product” is sort of a loss leader (or, promotion) to generate online memberships, where the online world is the true end game.

And once you’re in-world at Webkinz World, there’s lots to do (and buy) – collect KinzCash, play online games, collect Gems to exchange at the Curio Shop, etc.  Then there are additional toys that tie in to the world, called W-Plus Items (e.g. bookmarks, charms, body spray, lip gloss, etc.).  There’s also trading cards and a recently launched Webkinz eStore, where one can make purchases of virtual goods.  All in all, it’s not surprising that Ganz (parent company of Webkinz) generates $100MM per year.

By launching an online presence, toy makers seem to have the following goals:

  1. Commerce (including subscriptions)
  2. Branding
  3. Both!

With Club Penguin and Webkinz, the clear focus is on commerce – but keep in mind that once you’ve established a strong footprint and audience, you will have opportunities for branding – imagine subtle tie-ins within Club Penguin to other Disney properties (including exclusive offers for Club Penguin members).  On the branding (microsite) side, I checked some toy brands (off the top of my head) and found the following:

  1. Cabbage Patch Kids – Flash-based microsite.  If the original Cabbage Patch product launched today, I’m nearly certain they would have developed a full-blown virtual world
  2. BarbieGirls Virtual World – This looks to be branding focused – but may have related commerce
  3. Beanie Babies 2.0 – Flash-based microsite
  4. Playtime in Ponyville – Microsite for the My Little Pony franchise

One notable exception – a quick search did not turn up any microsite or virtual world for the Leapfrog franchise.  Perhaps that’s in the works for 2009!  Anyway, as a parent who has enabled/used some of these sites at home (for my child, of course!), I see them as a powerful branding vehicle that builds customer loyalty and (potentially) spurs product sales (both in the virtual and real worlds).

I compare the microsite to banner advertising – but instead of having your creative agency design your next Flash banner ad, spend a little more and have them build out a Flash microsite.  Then, your destination becomes your “advertising” and instead of trying to reach your audience across the web, you find that your audience comes to find you.  This is much more efficient than running a large amount of banner impressions and television commercials.  Your microsite fulfills the advertising concept of “frequency and reach”.

And that’s a wrap for now – my daughter needs this computer to access Playtime in Ponyville.

%d bloggers like this: