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What the heck will they blend on YouTube next!?

Social-media marketing can do much for the promotion of a company or product. The "Will It Blend?" YouTube campaign by Blendtec is one of the best.

Blendtec's Will It Blend?
Blendtec's Will It Blend? YouTube.com

Apparently, blenders aren't just for smoothies and margaritas anymore.

Ever try blending golf balls? Light bulbs? Cell phones? A rake handle? An iPod? I bet not, but I have a sneaking suspicion that you have watched Tom Dickson from Blendtec blend some of these things on YouTube.

A few months ago, I used the "Will It Blend?" campaign for an article on Marketing Profs.

Since then, the campaign has continued on (Tom blended an iPhone this summer, for instance) and is now arguably one of the best examples of YouTube-based social-media marketing (SMM) to date.

The YouTube-based promotion is the brainchild of George Wright, marketing director at Blendtec, along with Tom Dickson, Blendtec's founder and CEO. Various common objects are successfully run through a Blendtec blender without breaking it--even marbles. These videos are funny, addictive and brilliantly adept at demonstrating the power of Blendtec blenders.

The results for Blendtec were almost instantaneous. For their initial investment of less than $100 on the first videos in the series, the company drove more than 6 million visitors to its WillItBlend.com Web site in less than a week. It is the stuff of marketing legend, like Apple's "1984 Macintosh" campaign or Wendy's "Where's The Beef?" advertisements.

But the game is a little different now than it was in the television-dominated world of previous decades; YouTube is now more popular than all the sites of the TV networks combined.

YouTube offers brand visibility when the campaign is well-executed, but it offers more than that. Marketers must also know how to take advantage of the other parameters of social media. Here are three things to consider:

Links
YouTube and other social-media platforms can provide links to a company's corporate or home Web site. The key is to associate your video or other media with that site, both by using textual links and by branding the media.

Blendtec, for example, has watermarked its Willitblend.com domain in the lower-left corner of every video, from beginning to end. Even if someone takes a screen capture of the video, the site is represented.

The more interesting your content is, the more likely that people are to link to it. But they have to know where to link.

Branding and online reputation
Social media is more than just traffic and links. It works as well or better than any medium to create both online reputation and, through that, brand awareness. The fastest way to a popular and respected Web site is some combination of interaction and entertainment, and social media is both.

The Blendtec videos have made their blenders hip--and they may very well be the only hip blenders out there. Not only have the videos brought their brand to the forefront of many minds, through which thoughts of blenders might never have passed, but it's even been added our modern speak.

References are now made to "will it blend?" to denote the question of whether something will be successful, much like "will it fly?" or "is it a go?" Every time someone utters that phrase - at least for the moment - they will also think of Blendtec.

Sales
This one's basic: sales of Blendtec blenders were up 43 percent in 2006. They continue to be up in 2007. On top of that, companies using Blendtec blenders are paying thousands of dollars to have Blendtec promotions, and ads at the end of Blendtec videos are earning the company tens of thousands of dollars a year.

The avenue for this sort of promotion, SMM, is wide open. I wonder who the next Blendtec will be. If a company doing something as seemingly boring manufacturing blenders can pull it off, surely some sexier companies can too. For example, imagine what the celebrity-watching fashionistas at SeenOn could do with a bit of YouTube-driven SMM. This is surely a space to watch.