Web 2.0 profit angle: extreme self-promotion

While VC-backed and corporate owned Web 2.0 free-to-consumer services grapple with how to monetize the enormous, and costly, traffic their properties are generating, a few industrious users of the free services are capitalizing on the open Web 2.0 services to aggressively self-promote themselves, and their own services.

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While VC-backed and corporate owned Web 2.0 free-to-consumer services grapple with how to monetize the enormous, and costly, traffic their properties are generating, a few industrious users of the free services are capitalizing on the open Web 2.0 services to actively self-promote themselves, and their own services.

In “Moguls of New Media,” The Wall Street Journal traces how one early MySpace “friend” has aggressively used MySpace’s free hosting and tools to self-promote herself and her own commercial Web site properties and offline businesses:

Christine Dolce, whose MySpace page boasts nearly one million friends -- making her arguably one of the most connected people on the Internet. A 24-year-old cosmetologist who until a few months ago worked at a makeup counter in a mall, she now has a manager and a start-up jeans company and has won promotional deals for two mainstream consumer brands…

‘It's an awesome feeling,’ says Ms. Dolce, who built her MySpace profile with a page that panders to the site's young demographic with a mix of confessional commentary, provocative photographs of herself, celebrity images and music.

She joined MySpace in September 2003, adopting the name 'Forbidden' for her home page. As one of the first 15,000 members to join the site, launched in July 2003 (MySpace now has 96 million members), she built an early following that grew along with the site's membership…

While some members are choosy about whom they will accept as friends, Ms. Dolce decided after about a year on the site to accept anyone who put in a friend request. She also took on a manager -- Keith Ruby, another MySpace member with whom she developed a friendship online. A former concert promoter from Calgary, Alberta, he advised her on ways to capitalize on her online popularity. He helped broker deals with companies like Axe body spray and Zippo lighters. In recent months, she's appeared in online promotions for both brands. She commands rates of as much as $5,000 to appear at events like auto shows. In March, she quit her job at the makeup counter.

Advertisements for Ms. Dolce's outside Web site and assorted business ventures, like her jeans business, line the page.

In “Revver: advertiser-driven videos?” I present the “Coke & Mentos” viral video success story:

Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz are the not-quite-amateur creators of the video clip viral sensation; 'The Extreme Diet Coke & Mentos Experiments' has garnered over 4 million views.

Grobe and Voltz are experienced performers, they appear in the 'Early Evening Show' at the Oddfellow Theater in Buckfield, Maine. The owner of the theater, Mike Miclon, filmed the video clip.

The video clip is the culmination of several months of planning and collaboration. Its success also supports Revver's success. The site plans to come out of 'beta' next month.

Grobe and Vlotz have made appearances on"Late Night With David Letterman" and "The Today Show." The massive exposure and viral success of their video clip has reportedly yielded approximately $25,000 in ad revenue share from Revver for Grobe and Vlotz.

Even on an individual basis, industrious, personal bloggers are taking the initiative to self-promote in search of “fame,” if not “fortune.” In “NYC blogger embraces self-promotion, gets Yahoo’s attention” I present Bryan Murphy’s Big Apple all-day self-promotional “Project”:

In an effort to promote his weblog, and subsequently himself, Murphy put his ad agency experience to work for his own account and created the “Find Bryan Murphy Project”…

On Saturday, July 22nd, if you are anywhere on the island of Manhattan and have nothing better to do, I invite you to try to find me. Sort of like a gigantic real life game of ‘Where’s Waldo?’…

In an effort to try to generate some buzz about my ‘Find Bryan Murphy Project’, I’ve been trying to contact media outlets and anyone I can think of to try to get a mention about it. As a result, I recently communicated with some folks at Yahoo!…

I wrote them to see if there was some way I could get a ‘buzz’ mention on their news page… Yahoo wanted to hook me up by allowing me to hook YOU up – like really hook you up. Yahoo said they will give me a new Dell laptop and mp3 player to offer people as incentives to get out there and look for me – AND, they would also get me a camera to help me document the whole event!

While such stories of successful entrepreneurship are inspiring, they are undoubtedly few and far between.

How many networked “Forbiddens” are there among MySpace’s 96 million “friends”? How many savvy theater professionals are there among Revver's video enthusiasts? How many individual bloggers have ad agency experience and contacts?

ALSO SEE: "YouTube, Digg, MySpace: How much is a non-paying 'user' worth?"

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