Site asks, then aggregates
EmptySodaHead.com, an opinion-based social networking site, is being used by a growing number of entertainment and music brands -- including 50 Cent, My Chemical Romance, All-American Rejects, Aly & AJ and Plain White T's -- to interact with their fans and create greater brand loyalty.
With its site centered on finding friends or so-called "sodaheads" who have common interests and passions through one-question "opinion polls," SodaHead allows music brands to ask their fans such questions as which is their favorite song on an album, who they want a band to perform with at the Grammys or which is their favorite item in the band's online store.
The polls are being turned into widgets that are branded with the name of the band or celebrity to make it look like their own and are being posted on their MySpace pages, individual sites or any one of a number of other sites or profile pages -- either by the entertainment brands themselves or their fans. All the data collected by the polls, wherever they might live, are aggregated on SodaHead.com.
For example, the current My Chemical Romance SodaHead widget initially was posted on the band's SodaHead and MySpace profile pages and has been reposted by fans on more than 1,200 Web pages, SodaHead founder and CEO Jason Feffer said.
"SodaHead allows an artist or celebrity to pose questions to his or her fan base or audience," said Feffer, who was vp operations at MySpace until he left to start SodaHead in 2006. "Asking for people's opinions gets them engaged. It's really a marketing opportunity for brands to come to SodaHead, create content and have a two-way dialogue with their audience as opposed to just another commercial, banner ad or even MySpace profile. The widgets create a two-way digital conversation."
Chris Allen, manager at PMC for All-American Rejects and Plain White T's, agreed. "I think it's a great way to have fans interact and hopefully create a little more camaraderie with the bands," he said.
Feffer, who describes himself as one of the original core group that created MySpace, noted that advertisers traditionally pay consumers to participate in marketing surveys or focus groups. "Here at SodaHead, people do it freely and willingly because it's fun," he said.
He hopes that movie studios will soon begin using the widgets as marketing tools with such questions as "Are you going to see the movie in theaters on opening weekend?" or "Of these five trailers, which do you like most?"
Going to SodaHead, creating the widgets and posting them to other sites is free. SodaHead earns revenue through ads on the site and in the future plans to embed ads in the SodaHead widgets.
The site has nearly 300,000 registered members and reported nearly 680,000 unique visitors last month, with poll widgets voted on or viewed 500,000 times every day on the Web, Feffer said.
Other brands using the polling widgets as marketing tools include LL Cool J, Mandy Moore, System of a Down, the New York Post's PageSix.com, Anthrax, Avenged Sevenfold and Morningwood. SodaHead said it also is in discussions with one of the broadcast networks to create polls for some of its shows' sites but declined to provide further details.