If you were alive in the 80s, then you probably rocked the Walkman at some point, in some fashion before the end of the 90s. My most recent Sony Walkman was a “waterproof” CD
player that looked something like this. It lasted me through high school and into college; through snowboarding, wrestling meets, dorm rooms, and the general precocity that plagues teenagers and the tech they own. Since the death of that CD player I’ve owned one mp3 player after another and haven’t looked back. Looking back now, I realize that I left Walkman behind like a forgotten child’s toy. They were a good brand, I loved the product, and they had a huge market share… so what happened? I’m not a historian, and my profession has nothing to do with sales or marketing, but if I had to guess, I would say “the iPod happened”. Apple did an amazing job of crushing every company that tried to compete in the mp3 game for a long time.
Sony has recently release the W Series, which could optimistically be seen as a “comeback”. While I know a good bit about economics, marketing, and R&D costs, I really don’t want to get into economic forecasting about whether or not a single product could “save” a brand. Particularly considering that Walkman never officially went away, and Sony is definitely not going anywhere. What I do think is very interesting is the product itself, and how they are using Klout Perks to garner support for it.
If you are interested in the product and my assessment of it, you can read my review here. Bottom line: 2GB, water-resistant, 8hr battery life, NO CORDS, & I’ll probably use it tell the day it stops working.
For those who don’t know, Klout is a site that monitors your activity on various social media sites to gauge the level of interaction to your content, and how influential you are. There are a few sites that do this, but Klout seems to be the most prevalent. Again, first to market has something to do with it, but their Perks also have something to do with it. If you’re unfamiliar with Klout Perks, it’s a lot like it sounds (unless you are thinking of something sexual &/or illegal); they give you free stuff. The Sony Walkman W perk isn’t my first Klout perk.
Though I actually really like the Packers gear, the Sony Walkman perk is on a different level than any perk I’ve received, and most that I’ve seen for a couple of reasons:
- 5,000 is a lot of freaking devices to give away. If I were a full time tech blogger I’d bother to look up what is normal, and what they most given away is… but I don’t have time for that, sorry
- This perk is actually a contest. Five of the 5,000 people who claimed the water-resistant Meb Keflezighi edition W series will be selected to receive the waterproof W series that hasn’t hit the market yet. “Klout will be tracking entrant’s Tweets and ReTweets of the Message on Twitter, Facebook comments, likes, and shares. Five potential winners will be determined based on the content created” (more official rules here)
Maybe this is a common thing, but it is new to me, and dances around an interesting issue with giving away free product; how to get people talking about it as much as possible without them coming across as car salesman? At first it may seem like generating copious amounts of content and berating your followers would be the way to win, but since Klout is based on influence, getting the most engagement is probably the best way to win. Sure a lot of people might not reach that conclusion, but if they were selected (hopefully) they understand how Klout works and try to generate engaging content focused around the perk and the #FitnessWalkman hashtag. The easiest way to ensure that people generate sincere content based on giveaways is to not ask anything in return, but that doesn’t always ensure that said content will be engaging, or happen at all.
For the record I’ve received a Google chromebook from a TechCrunch giveaway, and GE occasionally gives gifts to their followers who contribute to the community. Neither of which asked that I generate content, but it’d be rude not to say thank you 😉
In my product review I said earlier that there is nothing in it for me to say nice things about the Sony Walkman; I still mean it. The winners will (most likely) be those who generate the most influential content. I would laugh until I cried bitter tears of irony if Dr. Poinsett won one of the five sets. She is one of the only who is outspoken against the headphones, and any troll will tell you that the fastest way to get engagement from other users is to swim against the current. For the record she is not a troll, just a concerned MD who thinks “distracted walkers endanger teens”. Also given that there are 5,000 people out there, a good portion of them with higher Klout scores and more followers. I find my odds of winning very slim, whether my comments are good or bad shouldn’t affect if I win or not. So why write what is probably my longest blog to date? Because I really want to answer, “is this going to save Walkman?” I really find all of this interesting.
While I’m neither psychic, nor a tech/econ expert, but I think that it might work. If it does succeed I honestly think that it will predominantly hinge on the product itself. It is a good product, priced under $100, and I think there is a demand for it. How many people would drop $20 on a pair of headphones because they forgot/lost theirs and another $40-60 on an mp3 player if they thought they would use it? Again, I don’t have the market research to back it up, but I’m sure Sony does.
As for the perk, I think it is a fantastic approach to get people engaged. I think that within a few months my father-in-law and my wife are both going to get one (because I’m not sharing mine). Unfortunately, despite giving away 5,000 devices I’m not sure that it generated the buzz they were hoping for. According to Hashtags.org there were less than 100 tweets using the hashtag over the last 24 hours (estimate). I did my own estimate (average number of tweets per page, number of pages in twitter search over the last 24 hours), and I come up with 320 tweets. Take that back further to Monday, when the perks started arriving in people’s mailboxes, and there are approximately 650 tweets. In either case, if each of those tweets belonged to a single user (which they don’t), barely one tenth of those who received a free product even tweeted about getting it. According to Statigr.am 160 photos were posted to Instagram with the #FitnessWalkman hastag. Hardly a viral campaign. Note: These numbers were as of the afternoon of April 4th. According to the rules of the perk the cut off for generating content is midnight of April 4th. It seems as though many people are still receiving their headphones today. It seems like a shipping/coordinating problem on their end. It’s hard to generate a buzz in 2-3 days, especially if most of your product testers don’t even have the product until after the contest is over. Update: these numbers were compiled in the middle of the day on the 4th (the last day of the contest), as of midnight on the 4th the numbers had changed (slightly). A total of approximately 826 tweets were generated with the hasthag #FtinessWalkman. 294 of those were on the last day, since the end of the contest only 91 tweets have used the hashtag. If their goal was to try and make the hashtag trend then making the delivery coincide with the last day of the contest might have made sense, but it doesn’t look as though it worked out for them. It would have been more productive IMO to let people review the product for a full week or a month before the end of the contest. That may have very well been there intention, with early production volumes of this kind (for product giveaways) there can often be delays.
If I had access to better analytic tools I could probably come up with more relevant and interesting statistics (not to mention prettier looking), but I don’t believe it would change the outcome much
P.S. If I do win the waterproof headphones they are going to my wife 🙂
— TJ Anderson (@TJSonOfAnder) April 3, 2013