Hello. Thanks for inviting me to lovely Prague, and to join in this fascinating conference. Really amazing presentations so far. I am ED Robinson, co-founder and creative director of The Viral factory, and we make content for social media.
First I need to apologise for the fact I appear not as advertised. This facial hair configuration is rather out of date as you can see, but I looked on my computer and all I could find was this shot. It was only yesterday that someone pointed out that all I needed to send over was this picture…
… and it would be much closer to the truth. Yup. It’s good to know.
So I’m going to try and talk about making content which drives conversations. The fuel to the social media fire. This is really what I have done for 10 years but it has developed a lot form the early viral days and why the V word is perhaps not as appropriate as it once was. I’m also going to talk about the role of social media – is it an advanced form of CRM or can it be something more. Can it actually build a brand in a long term tangible way. I bet you can guess my position on that. And lastly I’m going to try to encapsulate the 3 key rules in activating your social media presence.
It is also worth saying that I’m going to crowbar in quite a bit of my own work, partly to make some valuable points, but mostly to show off a bit - after all I have come all the way to Prague!
So the film was certainly a viral hit, being shared numerous times, but the real result was in the social sphere. This was the purpose of the film… not just the views, but the social media traction. The fact that for a week or two there where hundreds of thousands of online ‘discussions’, comment, controversy about the launch of my clients product. Each like is a mini social media explosion, each tweet represents endorsement of the brand, each Facebook share a reminder from that friend to all of theirs that WSC was opening it’s doors in a week or so. Effectively we controlled the agenda of a section of social media universe for a week. That is what activation is.
But it is possible that this was just a viral. And if so… if it is just a form of advertisement which has to directly ‘hit’ a portion of the population and give them a message, why is the on-line buzz, the chatter around the communication so important. What for instance is the benefit of views and interactions of people not in the UK, of even london, of seeing the piece.Well I could talk about 7 degrees of seperation, or the long term branding benefit for our client… who might one day set up a westfield in Prague… but I’m going to be more direct and simple than that With the help of this analogy.The picture here is of the Djemaa El Fna in Marakesh, one of the most fascinating places in the world. Full of bustle, hustlers, food stalls entertainers and confused tourists. It is really a hive of activity from dawn till dusk.As I sat in the café with my mint tea watching the scene it occurred to me that this square was a lot like the social web. Hundreds of conversations and interactions which appeared almost random and formless. There where moments though that little groups of people formed around a performer or storyteller… and as soon as that happens it has a snowball effect. Everyone wants to peer over the shoulders of the crowd to see what people are looking at.Social media activation is doing that.. Not just creating something great which will interest people, but then using the buzz to interest others who are ‘walking past’ and forming a crowd. As soon as you have a crowd you have a self-perpetuating movement. So the crowd, the interest, is valuable whoever is in it… because they bring others. So interest from any part of the social web is valuable as it brings interest back. So we get to the most viewed part of YT, trending on twitter, cross-liked on facebook, etc. All activity is good as long as it is visible.And this is the big difference between viral content and social content. Viral is intended to spread without making a scene – almost secretively. Social needs to be spread visibly.
Here is an example of what I mean.This is a viral ad we made a couple of years ago. I warn you it is a little saucey… but as we are not in america I doubt anyone will be seriously offended.So this piece was viral because even though it was seen at least 35m times, it was mostly shared by email between friends. Many fewer posted on their walls or openly tweeted because it is content you want to share between the likeminded. Social posting is much more open than that… and not everybody wants to be regarded as a conoseur of 1980’s porn.
So in social – is it simply enough to have a goal of a certain number of likes or fans.. This is jeep who where the first in the states in the auto business to get to 1 million. Very proud they where…
And the answer is – I don’t think so. Social engagement is important. But it must go deeper than that. It must be more than simply vanity of a number on a fanpage… otherwise we’d all do this.
I think social media content and activation can be about true brand creation.Obviously some of our biggest brands are predicated on social activity - facebook, gmail,skype etc – but most of us have off-line brands mostly. Can we use the space to really build a brand with values and generate long term sales.Well Will it blend is a decent example of this. 700 percent sales growth, 180 videos. Social interaction and dialogue. Tom the lovely CEO saiys that they had a great product and no brand awareness or position. This content gave them tha – and it results in sales. And a brand which we all know and I presume love.Yes love – you look at this and smile. And this is for a kitchen applience. Imagine having the same emotional interaction with Bosch.
The emotional connection is crucial.A brand that is cool, that you can love – despite what the product is.This is genuine branding and lasts. Social can do this because it exists in a space where real emotions exist… in conversations between friends and loved ones.
You just need to get it right, content wise and tonaly. Feel the feedback to the things you do and respond to them. Not form the board or your legal department. But form the highly visible and audible social web.
So here is my first point. (at last).Social is I think inked in many peoples minds to a form of ultra fast direct maketing. Coming form the internet of email. And of course there is a CRM function in social media – managing the information you put out and share. Like little press releases.But I think that is underselling it. I think we are playing in the garden that belongs to audience and while we have to abide by certain rules if you get it right you can generate real brand love. Much more easily and powerfully than in any opther media.I think cool comes form people – real humans are cool, corporations rarely are.
Ok you are all shouting ‘Apple is cool’ at me… and yes I agree.
But it’s steveJobbs which is cool, not the corporation. It is because the company is run like his personal dictatorship.Most corporations aren’t.
So our job is often to give brands a human personbality, so that they can exist in the social space without looking completely out of place…This was a piece we made for Samsung electronics and the most important thing from a socila media content point of view was the tone of voice. Making it un-corporate.The easiest way to do this is to take the position of ‘sponsor’ of content. Your not making an ad – you are supporting something of interest which your audience can talk about, fueling their social media conversations, and you benefit fomr the chatter, not the sales pitch in the thing you are doing.Sponsorship.
Piece for Skype..Similarly. If you want to tell the world about the importance of non verbal communcation – then do something interesting in that space. Don’t make an ad for it.
Draw in the users, make them part of the conversation.25 million views, 10,000 submissions to the chain…
After all what are the options in social media content?
Talk about yourself – it is usually dull and only interesting to those who are directly involved. You are not going to really build a brand like this.Bank of America – a pretty good starting place to find the dryest social media content attitude around.
You can be one of the curators of content – sharing what you find and like to draw attention and tell people what you stand for.But you are a corporation and you are competing with everyone else out there.Would you pay attention to Unilevers content selections over reddit? Or gizmodo?
Or what about world events – can you use these as a way to tap into ongoing conversations?Well it’s dangerous as you will see…
Love the response. When social media goes against you!
So I think the answert is that if you want to kick start conversations around a topic of interest you need to do something. You ned to make content which you can own, gives you a voice and generates chatter that you can rightfully engage with.But don’t try to make something viral – try to make something highly social and engaging.
Did anyone get how we did this?Lets have a little look.The key here is that we did something of interest and then listened and fed back to the audience.Youtube by the way is highly social now. Don’t ignore the power of comments, likes, favorites etc..
If I have time – talk about the conversations afterwards.
So I’m nearly done and it’s time for me to try and sum up with my 3 rules of social media activation.First – you have to do something, remarkable. That is Seth Goden’s word and I have yet to find a better. Do something which your target will want to talk about, discuss, argue over, want to take public ownership of.Do something is also key – don’t set out to make ‘an ad’ and then add on the ‘viral’ word to the end of it. Do something means anything, from filmed content, to aninteractive event to a real world stunt. Do something… if you are from an agency – that should be the first line of your brief – Do somehting.Second – respond like a human being. Don’t release something and then disappear. Find your human voice and you will be loved for it.Lastly – repeat. Do it again, and quickly. The social web’s interest is fleeting. Don’t relaease one massive campaign a year. Do 5 or 10 smaller more interesting things and slowly, like blendtech or Old Spice, or even Samsung… people will begin to feel the brand as being appropriate in their back yards. And you can generate love for our big corporate machines.Write that better!