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Promo for AmericanVETradio

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As part of our class on “Using Social and Digital Media,” we were tasked to produce a video promo for our clients using a service called Animoto. My client, AmericanVETradio, is a new, internet-hosted station that is dedicated to bringing Veterans and military retirees news and information about their Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits. It could be boring just listening to informational programming all day long, but it’s not just talk. It’s contemporary music and classic hits mixed with important benefits news and information.

The Animoto platform allowed me to put a slideshow together using photos,text, and music. I couldn’t control the speed with which the photos changed. That’s part of the pre-programmed application. So from that point of view, it has an annoying limitation. For a free application, though, it worked well otherwise. I hope you enjoy my promo for AmericanVETradio and that it entices you to listen. You’ll find it at www.AmericanVETradio.com.

Please click this link to view the AmericanVETradio Promo.

AmericanVetradio promotional video

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Applying ‘The Long Tail’ to AmericanVETradio

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I do a lot of driving so I often listen to books in audible formats. When my college reading list included The Long Tail by Chris Anderson, I was happy to find a spoken version so I could listen to my book when reading its hard-copy companion was not possible. As I started listening to The Long Tail, I was intrigued by the first chapter’s opening story about how a book on mountain climbing, Touching the Void, became a hit long after its first printing. Its rise, a decade after it hit store shelves for the first time, came because Amazon readers posted positive reviews about this earlier book when they were rating a newer book with a similar theme. This word-of-mouth advertising revived Touching the Void to the point that it was outselling the younger book. Had it not been for the consumers’ ability to share such reviews, and Amazon’s ability to handle the sale of such an obscure title through its virtual selling platform, Touching the Void may never have been resurrected.

I considered the rise of online retailers like Amazon and iTunes through the lens of Anderson’s Long Tail concept. It is impossible to deny that online sales are leaping madly ahead and leaving other, less forward thinking retailers to shutter their storefronts. Take Borders for example. They were the only true bookstore in my hometown. I liked shopping there, but the company’s online sales structure was a mess. I despised it so much, I stopped shopping Borders Online because it couldn’t meet my needs. Eventually, the entire company fell apart for a variety of small reasons and one large one, which happens to be linked to online sales and social media. Here’s how former CEO Mike Edwards described it, as recounted in a story in Publishers Weekly. “Borders’ most critical strategic blunder, he [Edwards] suggested, was not taking the Internet seriously enough in its early days and initially outsourcing its online business to Amazon.com. ‘We just handed our customer base to Amazon,’ Edwards lamented. ‘The view was that people were going to be in the stores.’ ”

He went on to describe exactly what The Long Tail points out, that brick-and-mortar stores can’t compete equally with online retailers because consumers can use computers and smart phones to find the same or similar products more cheaply through the web. They can also find obscure or unusual products that physical retailers can’t possibly stock and still make the rent. Borders leadership also underestimated social media, which, according to our previous reading, Engage!, can be a death sentence for any company. Borders did not consider that consumers would talk to other consumers online about products and want to purchase more obscure, out of-the-ordinary products than any one store could possible supply easily. Their thoughts were still in the “we built it, they will come” pre-Web 2.0 era.

Before you call me a harbinger of death for the brick-and-mortar set, I’m not saying all physical stores are headed to bankruptcy just yet. On June 6, 2012, Nielsonwire released data about where shoppers like to make their purchases, “Shopper Sentiment: How Consumers Feel About Shopping In-Store, Online, and via Mobile.”

From “Shopper Sentiment: How Consumers Feel About Shopping In-Store, Online, and via Mobile.”

It seems that we still think that in-store purchases are the most reliable and safest ways to buy merchandise. I definitely fall into this demographic for some of the products I purchase. As a consumer, I like the tactile nature of shopping. And because I have very narrow feet, I will not buy shoes without trying them on. The same holds true for clothes. I’ll rarely buy pants or suits unless I try them on first because I want to know they’ll fit. For hard copy books, though, I almost always go straight to Amazon. I also shop at an online company called Audible once a month where I download–you guessed it–audible versions of books. I’ve had a monthly subscription there since sometime in the mid-90s. My husband thinks nothing of purchasing expensive items like digital cameras online when he wants to upgrade. He just makes sure he reviews the seller with others first and investigates the possible hidden costs like shipping and handling.

The Long Tail is more than just “why mom-and-pop physical storefronts are failing” though. It is also about some places that are able to make their way because of the niche service or products they provide. AmericanVETradio is this type of supplier, one that exists in the long tail. It caters to a niche market, Veterans and others like them who need a specific product, which, in this case, is information about Veterans benefits, services, etc. We are going to take the guidance that Engage! and The Long Tail offer about getting our name, AmericanVETradio, out there and getting experts to help us gain recognition in order to best serve our Veterans. They have to know where we are or we will exist only for our own benefit.

We’ll be looking at various social media platforms and blogging options over the next several months to help us improve our social media optimization. In the meantime, please stay tuned … and listen to AmericanVETradio!