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Creative Career Path

Experiential Marketing with Social Media2009.11.18

    Trust in business is at an all time low, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer Survey, which is now in its 10th year. Trust in corporations is lower now than it was after the Enron scandal, the deflation, and September 11, 2001. According to the survey, people are far more likely to believe independent sources, employees, and customers like themselves, than they are to believe sponsored information, advertising, press releases, or statements issued by the CEO of a company, with only 13% trusting corporate or product advertising.

    That has got to be a worrisome trend for companies and advertising agencies alike. There are a number of reasons for the trend. Bad corporate behavior brought into broad daylight by the media. Independent and uncensored media available to everyone, providing access to insider opinions and end-user experiences.

    Consumers are better educated and more experienced. Once bitten is twice shy.

    Moreover, bad customer experiences travel faster than good ones. Dave Carroll is a musician from Canada who had a bad experience when United Airlines personnel mishandled his luggage, broke the neck on his Taylor guitar, and then refused to accept responsibility. He created a music video about the whole experience and uploaded it to YouTube. In a little over a year’s time, this video has had over 5.9 million views, becoming an icon of what can happen to a company’s reputation when a customer is mistreated.

    Social Media can also create positive PR if you provide positive experience and harness the power of experiential marketing through blogging. The concept is simple, though by no means easy to organize. People trust peer opinions and experience much more than they trust corporate messages and advertising. Bloggers are digital journalists, capturing their experience in writing, photos, or video, and happily sharing it with the rest of the world. Harness the power of dedicated bloggers by hosting experiential events that inspire them to capture and share their experience, and you combine the benefits of a credible source and vicarious experience. Readers can see for themselves through the eyes of the artist who was there.

    I recently had the privilege to participate in such a project first hand. Though it started as a grassroots effort by some friends in Kagawa Prefecture in Shikoku, Japan, it turned into a full scale event sponsored by government agencies, large and local companies, receiving up close coverage by NHK and local television as well as print media.

    The purpose of the project was to attract more visitors to Shikoku, especially from France, by creating greater awareness of its natural and cultural attractions. From October 10 ~ 22, we hosted 5 French bloggers to come to Shikoku and bring their experiences to life online. Their visual and video artistry revealed a new side of Japan fresh even to the Japanese who live there. As part of the project, we exhibited at the 10th Annual Japan EXPO in Paris in early July, attended by 160,000 Japan enthusiasts from throughout France and Europe. Recruitment for our project attracted 200 qualified French applicants for the 5 positions. We selected specialists in photography, travel illustration, art video, and experience blogging about Japan, who could help us show the magic of Shikoku, its natural beauty, traditions, cuisine, gardens, traditional and modern art and architecture.

    Everything was paid for by the sponsors, and we were treated to 12 days of Shikoku at its best. The bloggers uploaded fresh content daily, on their Blogs, YouTube, and Twitter. The response to our Social Media marketing campaign was swift and superb, with one blog seeing up to 7,000 ~ 9,000 page views per day, and comments by several dozen people to each post (

    The website showcases the entire project at, the blog posts, itinerary, illustrations, photos, videos, television and news coverage. It also features my Talk in Takamatsu, giving an overview of the tour, and the power of blogging to bring that experience to the world, with 5 short videos at See you there!

    William Reed


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    Article Writer

    William Reed

    William Reed is a renowned author-speaker who coaches physical finesse and flexible focus for a creative career path. A certified Master Trainer in Guerrilla Marketing and 7th-dan in Aikido, he combines practical wisdom of East and West to help you learn personal branding at the Entrepreneurs Creative Edge.

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