SEO BoyBand

SEO BoyBand: A Buzz Marketing Flop

I thought there was NO WAY this LinkBait experiment could fail. The idea seemed solid and outside the box. Let me explain why I did it, and why it didn’t end up making as big of a splash as I had hoped.

The Premise

At PubCon 2006, a tall thin guy named Kris and I were chatting about how funny it is that SEOs are treated like they’re in a boyband at these conferences. We joked about how we should be throwing our underwear on stage while they are speaking, and they should be signing our boobs.

Both of us apparently took a lot away from that conversation. Kris went on to write one of the funniest blogs ever, and I went on to do that DrinkBait stuff. We both had great success with our campaigns, which kept me thinking. I should do more fun stunts to attract attention and invoke a positive reaction. I mainly was looking to entertain and get a laugh, and of course, create a buzz.

Campaign Specifics

Just creating a post and buying the domain for SEO BoyBand isn’t enough to warrant props for outside the box thinking. I needed to make this good. After pondering it for a few days, I finally had a game plan.

  • Register
  • Write story about major SEOs forming a BoyBand
  • Hire Skorp to photoshop a few hilarious pics of the band in action
  • Here’s the kicker: Max bid on Google Adwords for the phrases SEO, Search Optimization, Search Engine Optimization, etc. the day the Chicago SES Conference begins, and leave campaign running for a few days.

I figured most SEOs search for that phrase rather frequently, and if I owned that phrase during the convention, somebody would notice and I would have created a word of mouth marketing monster. It didn’t quite turn out that way.

Why The Heck Run Adwords? Was it Expensive?

Because I’ve never seen a LinkBait idea marketed that way. I wanted originality points, and something interesting to talk about after the fact.

And yes, it was expensive. I spent well over a grand in less than 2 days on marketing a joke.

Let’s Explore That Adwords Campaign

Pictures speak a thousand words. Just check out this insanity.

Almost 14k impressions. 98 clicks. $13.78 Avg. CPC. $1350.38 ad spend. 4k daily budget. $99.00 default max bid.

A little nutts eh? I was breaking through and placing $99.00 bids to force bonus. I let Google’s ad serving algo keep my click costs in the highest end of the general range that current advertisers are running now.

Here are the phrases I was running:
NOTE: this provides some great insight as to which SEO related phrases people are searching for

The best part of the campaign however, was the ad copy. They were mind numbingly dumb, and I though t they were funny as all get out. Check these ads out

Man, I love that. I thought it would be like playing a harmless prank on the SEO world for a bit.

Why Did it Fail?

There’s probably a ton of reasons, but here are a couple I can think of.

  • I overestimated the percentage of people at SES Chicago who would search for the phrases I advertised
  • SEO people are probably blind to the PPC ads on their vanity searches
  • I didn’t put much effort behind making a splash with it
  • Maybe it wasn’t as funny as I thought?
  • There was nothing in the post that called for action or interaction of any sort
  • People were too busy at SES to be searching for stuff… bad timing
  • I didn’t properly seed the joke by telling key people that this was going to be posted
  • I didn’t submit it to any social bookmarking type sites (and neither did anybody else lol)
  • I didn’t write the story well

What did we learn here?

I don’t know, you tell me! I would still love to see turn into a pop culture phenom. (*note, that was obviously tongue in cheek sentence, and a purposefully gross overstatement) I was even going to make a series out of it by incorporating industry news and the rest of the mainstream SEO celebrities with a reality show type feel… but if the people don’t like it, I won’t serve it!

With such pop stars as Matt Cutts, Rand Fishkin, Danny Sullivan, Greg Boser, and me (again, joking… those dudes don’t have pull like me yet, but they are working on it) how could it possibly fail? Any ideas?

BS-1 Behind the Conference: SEO BOYBAND

BS-1 Behind the Conference traces the rise and fall of the most prolific boy band in SEO history. The first group of SEOs ever to travel outside the typical conference circuit and into the dark underworld of pop music made their debut after they met at Webmasterworld’s PubCon 2006. Their first single, “Use the anchor text: love”, quickly rose to the top of the popular chart, giving the band instant notoriety, fame, and wild success.

SEO Boy Band initially started working the conference circuit in early 2006 where SEOs, CEOs, and even SEO Fan Girls have been spotted throwing their underwear on stage as the band performed public link analysis sessions, which often ended in public riots. The thought of the buzz gave band front runner Chris Hooley the idea to take the show on the road.

After a grueling dance rehearsal, the band agreed the choreography and timing was right. SEO BoyBand began touring all over the greater San Jose area. After a few sell out shows, it became apparent to the crew that their newly found fame would get more than they bargained for.

In a rare interview with BS-1 Hooley says: “I was just doing it for the buzz, these free pairs of underwear are just another perk!”

Greg “Web Guerilla” Boser chimes in “not to mention the 600 backlinks I got from Digg yesterday” as he Hi Fived Rand Fishkin of SEOMoz who says “I’m a bad ass SEO“.

Meanwhile, the absence of these high profile SEO rockstars on the conference and blogging scene created a void, which some more crafty web marketing experts quickly exploited.

The release of their second single “Rollin’ Wit da Bloggerz” brought even more fame and backlinks. However, the grueling 7 day a week schedule of blogging, singing, and dancing began to wear on the super group. This didn’t stop the pop marketing powerhouse, they continued the media craze by releasing “Link Pop” and following it up with their smash hit “Love me, Leave me, then Link to me”

Eventually the media craze became to much for the SEO Boy Band to handle. Chris Hooley spent countless days DrinkBaiting, while Greg Boser and other band members stayed up night all night using the harder stuff to keep going.

“I just, really love the purple ones” said Boser after a long night of pounding yoohoo and snorting pixie sticks. “I don’t know what I would do without them”

The increased exposure and sugar consumption eventually started to tear at the band. Bitter rivalries between members of the back up dance crew eventually led to disaster. SEO BoyBand stopped touring after an incident where Tim Mayer and Adam Lasnik nearly choked each other out. Danny Sullivan tried to stop the violence, but ended up instant messaging the police.

Back up vocalsit Matt Cutts saw the transgressions, quit the banned, er.. I mean BAND, and applied a minus 30 penalty to the whole crew. That was the last time Mayer and Lasnik spoke, and ultimately the end of SEO BoyBand.

After the dust settled, nearly a fortune in backlinks was amassed. Chris Hooley, as the owner of the domain, currently controls the link equity created by the band. “It’s a time in my life I’ll never forget. What’s your name again?”

Although the experience might have been a blur to the band members, the memory of their rise to #1 on the SERPs, I mean charts, will never fade.

*props to Skorp for the images. Check out his BadTastic Blog for more crazy antics and SkorpShopping!

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