Sometimes you have to wonder why brands bother enabling comments on their YouTube videos.
Case in point: the YouTube outpost for Path, the new "personal network" mobile app, a "place where you can be yourself." A vaguely defined value proposition on the face of it, but you have to figure that there must be some 'there' there as it comes from some social networking heavyweights: former Facebook exec Dave Morin and Napster co-founder Shawn Fanning. So it's understandable they'd produce a video to explain how it works and why online socializers should give it a whirl.
But take a peek at the comments at the start-up's one and only YouTube video, and there's a recurring refrain.
"You don't give me a single reason to care. I would pull this video and hire someone who knows what they are doing. Yes, you can write code, but you know nothing about advertising." (Ouch). And: "doesn't really explain anything about the service. Luckily I read the website earlier so see its a 'photo timeline for up to 50 close friends in your life.'"
In a world where people are "always on" and being pushed to make all their behavior transparent and "social," it's clear that folks need a reason to adopt another social brand — even one, like Path, that argues it's a value add, not replacing your existing social networks but "augmenting" them. In the crowded world of social brands and options, where users feel oversubscribed as it is, it's potentially powerful; but also a reminder that it's crucial to be crystal-clear about what you're offering and how it works.
The video, unfortunately, isn't much help in defining Path. Even the description for Path's launch YouTube video, above, is opaque: "Path is the personal network. A place to be yourself and share life with close friends and family" (plus a link on how to download the iPhone app). Yes, a YouTube presence is vital (it's the second biggest search engine, after all), and launching a new brand with one or more compelling videos is mandatory these days.
Still, even if you've created the most amazing service that will revolutionize social networking, and even if it comes from an Oxford professor's theory of evolutionary psychology that 150 people is the maximum number for a meaningful personal social network, it's not enough to put out a video with some trendy music and good-looking people and expect Joe and Jane Public to get it. Especially not if you want them to become BFFs and friend your brand.
Hopefully we're not picking on Path, but clearly there's an object lesson here for other brand marketers. But that's our take; tell us what you think!