LayeredTech TV; Marketing Web Hosting with Social Media

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So social media actually succeeded in informing me about something to do with web hosting this weekend. If it wasn’t quite a first, it was at least notable. Maybe it’s my lack of direct involvement with Twitter, but I just don’t tend to discover things this way.

Anyhow, on Sunday I noticed that Aaron Phillips, of Layered Tech by way of FastServers.Net, had posted a YouTube video on Facebook (yeah, Facebook and YouTube!) – an episode of a new enterprise called LayeredTech TV, featuring chief marketing officer John Pozadzides.

He talks about virtualization a bit, discusses how it might benefit customers, and illustrates his point through a visit with Layered Tech customer NeXplore, which operates a search engine.

Since I can link the clip in the blog post, I won’t spend too much time on dissecting the actual content of the video. But I do want to talk about the project, which is interesting, if not totally unheard of.

It’s a step beyond the current everyone’s-doing-it trend of the company blog, the advantage of which is a sort of desirable transparency we’ve discussed a lot lately. A lot of the early talk about “corporate blogging” talked about it being a great means of “two-way communication,” which is true, but it also kind of discounts the value of a blog as a vehicle for one-way communication.

I’ve got a dozen or so hosting company blogs in my RSS reader and I was just noticing there isn’t one of them that I’d consider not worth reading. They’re a great at-a-glance way to keep up with what a company is doing, and they give you a sort of personal perspective on what might otherwise be a pretty faceless organization.

Of course this is all stuff that John P, a very very popular blogger, already understands.

(Speaking of which, word of LayeredTech TV also came in via the official Layered Tech blog. So yes, it’s definitely slower than the Facebook method.)

Anyhow, the semi-professionally-produced (and I don’t mean this as a criticism, only that it’s not CNN) video is sort of a step beyond that. Other people have been doing it for a while. HP has its TechWise TV, which I posted about a while back.

There’s something simple, and plainly compelling about video content like this. It’s easy to watch and absorb. And from the producer’s side, it’s easy to fit in product placement without making the viewer feel like they’re not getting anything out of it.

Take this specific Layered Tech video. It’s not a veiled sales pitch. It’s a discussion of Layered Tech’s grid offering, in the context of broader information about grid computing. To anyone who’s considering a grid hosting offering (and if they are, they’re probably looking at Layered Tech), that’s a valuable service.

So are we going to see more of these? Well, we’re going to see more from Layered Tech. According to the post on the Layered Tech blogs, “these 5-minute news briefs will air on a bi-monthly basis.”

I think it’s safe to say other hosts will try this. How effective will it be? That’s the question, I suppose. I think I feel the same way about this (as a marketing medium) as I do about anything else in the social media realm – that is, why not? Especially with something like video, a relatively small amount of work can produce something that will hang around for years, from a strictly return on investment perspective, I’m sure a handful of new Layered Tech customers would more than pay for an episode of this sort of thing. I guess its effectiveness remains to be seen.

Is this something you’d try?

CONSTRUCTIVE CRTICISM: I couldn’t find a better place to be critical, so I’ll stick it in here at the end. Needless to say, I’ll watch it again. But I’d like to see it steer away from the over-produced green screen and superimposed animated background. It’s a temptation we dabbled with and grew out of on WHIR tv. It ends up looking kind of tacky, in my opinion. I think it would be much more watchable if John was sitting at a desk, or in front of a wall. Maybe under a blanket like the “leave Britney alone” guy?

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