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Groundbreaking Blog Viral Marketing: Obsidian Blackout Event

Groundbreaking Blog Viral Marketing: Obsidian Blackout Event

JC Hutchins, 7th Son Obsidian podiobook anthologyJC Hutchins has been breaking rules even before he started his blog in an attempt to give away his science fiction novel, 7th Son, which publishers didn’t want, as a free podiobook, one of the first audio books published as a weekly series of podcasts. He has come up with a variety of interesting viral campaigns to promote his book, blog, podcasts, and writings, turning his unpublished book into the most popular podiobook series in history, and becoming a specialist in the true sense of social networking and marketing. His innovative online self-marketing techniques attracted St. Martin’s Press, and his book will finally be published in 2009.

Tapping the creativity of his fan-base, Hutchins is breaking rules again by asking people to become victims and make history.

Hutchins is producing what he calls the “first-ever in podcasting” featuring 7th Son: OBSIDIAN, a short story anthology set in universe of his 7th Son podcast novel trilogy withrthe biggest names in podcast fiction contributing stories, including best-selling sci-fi authors Michael A. Stackpole and Scott Sigler. He wants you to be a part of his evil master plan.

The plot:

How can you play? You gotta believe in this conceit: On November 19, 2007, the U.S. suffered a coordinated terrorist attack, and was plunged into a nationwide blackout. The country devolved into chaos. Power and order were restored two weeks later.

You are invited to be a participant in that November 2007 blackout. I’m opening the gates and empowering you to create content that will appear in the OBSIDIAN podcast and YouTube experience. You can record video of yourself suffering through this mayhem. You can call a voice mail number and leave a panicked message, or a news report from the field. The blackout is real, and it’s happening now.

Hutchins is not asking blog readers to comment and respond to his blog posts. He isn’t asking them to write blog posts and send trackbacks. He’s not asking for incoming links. He’s inviting readers to join the game and become a part of the creative process.

The deadline is April 30, 2008, and the instructions and options are simple. You have a choice to:

  • Call a voice mail number and leave a “panicked message” as a victim of the blackout.
  • Video your “blackout experience” and upload it to YouTube.

BoingBoing and Gawker Media’s Science Fiction Blog,, call this event “groundbreaking audience participation” and I expect will set a new standard in blog and multimedia integration.

Here are some examples of an audio and video submission to the blackout event.


Breaking Your Own Ground With Your Blog

There will be copy cat events popping up to emulate Hutchins’ Obsidian Blackout event, but ask yourself how you can break ground with your own blog to generate interest and enthusiasm.

In the past year, it became easier than ever to embed videos, podcasts, and other multimedia into our blogs. Integration of social networking aspects of the web, like Twitter and MyBlogLog, is also simple, incorporating your online social life with your blog. So how can you use all these integrations to push your blog in new directions?

Unfortunately, the choices are many. What do you do? Which methods do you choose?

Here’s a simple way of approaching the concept. At the Successful and Outstanding Bloggers Conference (SOBCon) this year, participants are asked to bring or create a 2-5 minute “presentation” of their blog or blog expertise to present on Sunday. It can be slides, video, speaking, theatre, teaching, whatever the participants want to create within their short time slot. The theme of the conference is “Business School for Bloggers” so I think of this as a chance for participants to showcase what they’ve learned about marketing their blogs by creating a “commercial.”

You can do also play along. Set your own time limit. Let’s say one minute, the time of a very well-paid ad shown during the Super Bowl game in the United States. Let’s also assume that you paid top dollar for this minute, money you can’t afford. So you need to get the highest return on that investment.

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You have one minute to give people a reason to come to your blog and return for more. What do you do?

Do you immediately think visual, textual, or audible? Go with that. What does it look like? What does it sound like? What words and visuals would you use to make your pitch? What is most important about your blog that makes it a place to visit and tell your friends? What do you most want people to know you have to offer? How do you present that in one minute or less?

Now, make it inclusive. After all, a blog is about the social. How can you involve others, specifically your readers, in the process? And how can you get them to involve others?

The next step in the process is to think about how to make it viral. How do you make this “communicable” and “spreadable”, getting everyone to talk about it and encourage people to act upon it?

This is where understanding your blog’s demographics and how to connect with your readers is critical. Those coming to Hutchin’s site are fans of audio books and podcasting. They like the visual, but they adore the ease of portable entertainment. Truthfully, many are iPod and handheld computer fans, taking their favorite blogs with them through their ears and eyes as they move through their lives. Creating a viral campaign that maximizes audio and visual, JC Hutchins shows he knows his audience.

Events like these aren’t sudden brainstorms. They start out that way, but become plans. Detailed plans. How to create the campaign, implement it, and make it easily digestible by your audience.

Do you have some groundbreaking thoughts rolling around in your blog thinking?

View Comments (2)
  • J.C. does a great job of weaving a great story with several characters into an involving plot line. I was never distracted or pulled out of the story by his different character voices, he does a great job narrating as well. I’m excited for Book 2 in the series.

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