The City of Edmonton can learn a lot from the social media marketing strategies of a number of private sector firms. A YouTube video sponsored by Coca-Cola and Mentos is a case in point.

Unless you live under a rock, you know if you put Mentos into a bottle of Diet Coke a big gusher results. With that in mind, the two companies sponsored a video that shows Coke Zero and Mentos being used to power a rocket car. Check it out; it’s a way cool video. To date, more than two million people have done just that.

What’s my point? Well let’s look at some of the videos about Edmonton on YouTube. There are videos about The Fringe, The Works, Heritage Days and the Street Performers Festival. And what kind of viewership have they drawn? Most of them languish in the double digits to low hundreds of views. The odd one pushes toward 2,000.

It doesn’t take long to realize that like all the popular videos on YouTube, it’s the ones with some sort of entertainment value that tend to pull the greatest number of viewers. The abysmal numbers for videos about Edmonton indicate their almost complete lack of anything entertaining. Most of them are quite boring; lots of talking heads and videos of various sites around the city, but nothing that would make someone forward them to a friend.

There are a lot of creative people in this city who can write a good script and shoot great videos. Frame 30 and Dynacor are just two examples that come to mind, but there are many others, too. Frame 30 has made some excellent commercials for international, national and provincial clients. What kind of video would Frame 30 create about Edmonton if given the opportunity? If nothing else, I bet whatever it came up with would be entertaining.

So here’s a thought. The City of Edmonton should sponsor a lucrative video contest that would encourage anyone with a video camera to show how funny, weird, entertaining or unique this city is. The city could then post the videos on YouTube and track how many times they are viewed. Depending on the videos, the city could build a marketing strategy on them the way the private sector does. At the very least, thousands, perhaps millions of people would get an opportunity to see just how creative this city really is.

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