Category Archives: Social Media

Racist or Borderline Brilliant?

EquinoxLast night, while doing some insomnia-induced Facebook feed flipping, I came across a piece of Equinox Gym’s “Commit To Something” campaign as a sponsored ad. It showed up in my feed because 6 of my Friends “like” Equinox. My eyebrows were raised by seeing a bunch of white folks with somewhat unimpeachable looks being touted by two black, three asian and one hispanic friends of mine. Of course, they had no active part in the image presented with their names attached, but it struck me. To be fair, the “Commit To Something” campaign shows diversity, but it also leaves a lot of room to interpretation. Oddly, when I read about the thinking behind the campaign, provocation seemed to be the core driver when it needn’t be.

Perhaps subconsciously, Equinox and Weiden & Kennedy tapped into a conceit that has pervaded their perfect audience for centuries – exclusive and unattainable beauty as conveyed in the fashion industry for…ever. The high-end fashion industry parades clothes on catwalks around the world revealing clothing that can neither be afforded or worn by nearly all humans. Luckily for Equinox, their audience profile fills a larger percentage of the population, and Equinox extends their exclusive feel through this campaign. Additionally, it seems that they have smartly already primped the pipeline of content to consistently feed the campaign with videos, #committosomething social content and more.

So, while many may ask why a gym doesn’t show normal people sweating on treadmills, Equinox is strong in it’s brand awareness and holds fast to their place in the industry as the purveyors of high-end gym offerings for exclusive individuals. I don’t know that they need to provoke anyone in order to convey who they are, but at least they’re having fun with it.

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A New Form Of Superstar Athlete? A Little Bit Of Content Will Do…

eSports

It wasn’t so long ago that people would provide a quizzical stare when presented the concept of eSports as an industry and an even shorter time since people would laugh at the thought of eSports becoming big business with a huge following. Now, adding to the list of new generational tastes and trends that bucked the naysayers of older generations, eSporting continues to crystallize itself as a huge opportunity for both entertainment and commerce. Turner Broadcasting and major entertainment/sports agency, WME/IMG have announced their ELeague and 30 weekly hours of coverage that will be coming with it on a grand scale.

For those who don’t know about eSports, it has been brewing for a few years – where video game players (both single and team) compete against each other in leagues and championships with the action streaming much in the same way we’re used to seeing other professional sports around the world. Here’s the huge opportunity — as FIFA benefits from the accessibility of Football/Soccer to make it’s sport the largest in the world, the same could be said for video games and the leagues that have formed to support them. The players you see in these leagues are the cream of the crop, but the opportunity is attainable with hard work – and these teams work hard.

Just looking at Riot Games’ LEAGUE OF LEGENDS, their competitive teams are able to focus on practice and competing 24/7 with strong sponsorship packages. Their championships sell out around the world and the demand continues to grow.

Now that the first regular linear presentation of these sports is arriving on Turner in 2016, the opportunity for growth is even stronger. What is key though – for the strength of the leagues and their competitors – is that the production is treated as strongly as those of the recognized major sports. There is no excuse not to. And, with the opportunity to highlight players that are more like the every-man through solid content development and storytelling, there is every possibility that strong competitors/personalities will be able to reach fans and consumers in ways that not even our present top athletes can.

Hopefully, the sneers and jeers will be muted early enough to allow for enough talented people to get in on something special before the opportunity passes them by.

The Amazing Speed Of A Static Image

The Amazing Speed Of A Static Image

Forget, for a second, the impetus for Jean Jullien’s drawing mashing up the peace symbol and the Eiffel Tower to appreciate how incredibly fast it spread throughout the world. Being as only 24 hours after Jullien took a minute to create the illustration it was all over the place, you’d have thought it had been created long before and was already known and had a following. The fact that it was so perfectly simple and related to a major zeitgeist moment just proves the power of connectivity and interconnected”ness” that today’s distribution and social platforms afford us.

5 Facts That Affect GREAT Social

PancakeSelfie

Holiday Inn Express has just gotten past the hump of their nine city, SelfiePancake Express truck tour and there’s already a few pieces of learning to be gained from this strong social content event. Signing Rob Riggle as the “Creative Director” for this campaign touting Holiday Inn Express’ newly launched 60-second pancake maker that includes a food truck outfitted with quirky and cool technology placing visitors’ selfies on the pancake themselves was very smart. The concept is a good one, but both wins and losses are showing in the middle of the campaign that makes a stop in Los Angeles this weekend. Here’s five of them…

CONTENT STRATEGY DOESN’T HAVE TO BE ON-THE-NOSE – This campaign doesn’t blatantly tout the things you usually associate with hotel stays – hospitality, comfort, etc. – to engender conversion. They key on a secondary offering in this content – their included breakfasts and spiffy pancake maker – to add to the aura while having some fun. It’s definitely not a hard sell to stay at their locations, but its a meaningful one.

HASHTAG STRATEGY SHOULD CLARIFY, NOT CONFUSE – Looking at just some of the collateral for this campaign, there’s not one, not two, but three hashtags presented. The most beneficial to this campaign is the #PancakeSelfie tag due to the content and context. The second one – #StaySmart – makes sense as it is their current corporate hashtag. But, that general tag should not have the prominence it does on this campaign and one can wonder why they chose such a generally vague tag when other hotel chains and organizations use the same tag. When choosing a hashtag, you should know you’ll be able to completely own it (again, no confusion.) And, the third hashtag is the most confusing – #DontWaffle. Besides the obvious point that a waffle is not a pancake, it just bifurcates the audience and certainly does not inspire by leading with a negative – a sentiment not aligned with their overall branding or this campaign.

POSITIONING CELEBRITY IN CREATIVE WAYS IS A WIN – They made a smart move by incorporating talent (Rob Riggle) as not just a spokesperson, but an executive of the company. We’re not sure if he’s being anything more than creative for the company, but it puts a different spin that alludes to the fun the chain is poking at themselves. As Riggle proves, the change in perspective allows more flexibility in storytelling and relate-ability. There’s a number of videos that were created and, with Riggle’s talent, there probably was enough content on the cutting room floor to complete a half-dozen more.

AUDIENCES NEED AN INCENTIVE – OR TO BE INSPIRED – TO POST TO THE SOCIAL NETWORKS – This is absolutely not scientific (due to just being a quick look at hashtags to get a sense of how many people were tagging posts properly), but there are an incredibly low number of people posting pictures of their #PancakeSelfies. Pardon the pun, but the table was set with plates that had all the right branding printed to surround the pancake and the participants just didn’t bite. Either they felt it was not cool enough to post without prodding, or an incentive like a “post to win” mechanism was needed. In this case, the chain could have offered a lucky person(s) a few free nights.

PR AND OUTREACH IS ESSENTIAL TO EVENT SOCIAL PROGRAMMING – When reviewing location mentions, the actual locations were surprisingly not posted with the hashtag – as far as we could see. And we definitely couldn’t find exact location call-outs from the official social feeds. The location announcements were found through local media outlets. Without knowing how many people showed up at each location, we can’t tell how effective they were, but it does show that events need tight integration with the communications teams to activate all outlets. In the case of this campaign, the fact that we don’t know where the truck is going to be in Los Angeles – and there’s nothing in the feeds about past locations (except Long Beach), there’s a hole in the plan.

So, Holiday Inn Express has done a great job with the Social Content Concept and execution on a good number of the pieces. It just highlights that all of a campaigns components (social or otherwise) really need to be addressed and aligned to see holistic success and a return on the efforts of a hard-working team.

The Best Brand Social Communication

SocialDisarray

Far too many brands fail by using social as arms of their PR team – where they announce and tell rather than join in a conversation. The reality is that probably less than 10% are doing their brand communication on social effectively. MediaPost’s post on Sprout Social’s recent study of brand response to their audience (or consumers) through social shows a dismal upward trend of not responding to social queries. More audiences are expecting more customer service capabilities via social, yet brands continue to send many more posts than replies. In the case of media and entertainment, they send 8.5X more posts than replies and, in the real estate vertical, nearly 12X. Some of the brands that better understand not only the power in responding, but the need to, are those in travel/hospitality and some in everyday-use package goods. Virgin Atlantic is one company that set the tone early in the use of social media in how they handled travel disruptions caused by volcano ash that hampered travel throughout Europe in 2010. Where other airlines completely let their customers down, Virgin Atlantic served their customers well through constant communication and grew loyalty in the process. The thing is, your brand should determine how involved you are in social communication with your audience – not the vertical.

Of equal importance is that responding to your audience via social is only part of the equation in good brand social communication. That often overlooked component is the brand voice. As with the other pieces of brand experience that are moving to the forefront of Audience Development is the consistent portrayal of your brand’s voice. Especially when maneuvering the social realm, consistency is even more important as it will usually be the most “human” relationship the audience has with the brand. The voice needs to factor the following at minimum:

Purpose – Why are you on Social platforms in the first place? What services will you serve via social and what will you not? If, for example, you have no intention of delivering customer service via social, that will greatly affect the voice.

Character – What does your brand “sound like”? As this is the must human interaction, what do you want your audience to take away from the brand socially?

Tone – What is the general vibe of the brand? If this is not consistent with character and your overall brand, your social is DOA.

Language – Determining the kind of words you use and the style of language is completely dependent on who your audience is. If you don’t have that understanding of your audience, you can find yourself actually hindering growth by using the wrong language.

All of these considerations – along with your brand’s consistent dedication to providing the needed resources – can lead to great brand social communication. Being clear and consistent with your social strategy and execution will not only lead to streamlined resources, but also consistent growth.

8 Examples How To Build Brands Through Audience Participation

SW_DarthWhere it was once taboo to allow normal folks to play with and publish content based on a brand’s product, the opposite now stands when looking at a key factor of Audience Development. It wasn’t too long ago that brands might have shuddered if their IP was manipulated in a way like Wacky Packages did,  but most of those survived – and it was only a precursor to what audiences have the capability to do now with creative tools and the low cost of distribution and sharing. Those tools and abilities further strengthen the abilities for brands to build audience through allowing full participation.

So, in the spirit of Wacky Packs, the truth of the title above was fudged a little bit. Included are not 8 separate examples, but 8 different iterations of one example where a brand is allowing the audience to participate. That brand is STAR WARS – which is now managed by Disney – and these examples are how the characters were inserted by a fan (or fans) into the Tinder social platform.  A compelling dilemma about the brand is that they didn’t foster or celebrate that audience participation for years. Instead, choosing to control everything and any fan-generated content was done on the outskirts, completely pulled off with a rebel intent like the heroes of the series. When Disney took over, that spirit of community celebration and the welcoming of un-“official” creatives really started to take it’s rightful place.

All that is needed is the positive space in which to allow the audience to play – if the audience shares the same passion for the brand as the brand obviously does, they will make it happen. In addition, with proper Audience Development, they will self-regulate due to their affinity for the brand and bring the brand to heights that might have previously been unimaginable. The proof of just such a thing can be seen above and below with the classic STAR WARS characters trying to find a little love on Tinder…

SW_Chewie

SW_Lando SW_Droids SW_Leia SW_Han SW_Luke

VidCon Teases Keys to Engagement in a Shifting Marketplace

John Green Presenting the VidCon 2015 Industry Opening Keynote

John Green Presenting the VidCon 2015 Industry Opening Keynote

Attending a conference like VidCon can wear a person out – especially if the person is not the predominant target. With the majority of attendees being teens and pre-teens that are exceedingly enthusiastic about the YouTube celebrities, it’s far to easy to overlook what is truly special and energizing about this movement.  Vulture’s Bryan Moylan attempted to do this and, while he did capture some solid elements, they were nowhere near what the reality was in the Anaheim Convention Center. By actually attending VidCon, there are no promises that an older generation will completely “get” what’s going on. But, the sooner everyone realizes that the motivations of the majority generation of VidCon attendees is drastically different than the generations that came before, we’ll be quicker to get into the media innovations that will truly make a difference in the future.

One would think that being a part of the Industry Track – the most expensive entry – would count as being a bona-fide member… The thing is, being away from the groups of Creators and Community meant more than being on a different floor physically – it meant being in a different thought process of why people would want to participate in mediums that are so self-celebratory. Even though John Green (VidCon Co-Founder as well as the writer of Fault In Our Stars and a business partner with his brother, Hank, in starting VidCon as well as a burgeoning video/content industry) mentioned in his Industry Track Opening Keynote that only 18% of their company’s revenues came from advertising revenue, so many of the following tracks allayed the conceit that, somehow, we need to figure out how to work the traditional forms of media into this new phenomenon.

Attending VidCon confirms that the traditional media conceit will absolutely not work among this crowd, nor any crowd/generation beyond it. Certainly, there were numerous speakers that tipped their hat to a need for change in the way big business is done. We all know that it is easier and/or quicker to promulgate change when you are not really a part of big business (yet), but it was disheartening to hear from some brand people about how they needed to break into the content and disrupt the movement that is disrupting the norm. It just isn’t gonna happen.

Vulture’s Moylan does capture some essence from afar as it relates to the community that this community is a part of – one of shared experiences among large crowds that, without the internet and the new mediums, they would have not had the opportunity to connect with. Absolutely, there are chances to expand upon social good and education in addition to entertain. You just can’t overlook what this movement is writing the book on – true audience development.

As long as we keep our way-we’ve-always-done-it hats on, they are all looking to be movie stars. Take those hats off and we see it for what it is – people using a medium to build and foster audiences in ways that couldn’t be done previously. The most important thing to Creators – at first, at least – is gaining and fostering their audience. With relatively basic, YouTube-integrated products, they are more successfully doing what large brands with huge amounts of data and resources aren’t even aware that they need to do.  In the same way that Creators are working exhaustively to build an empire that they have no idea where it will lead them, the Community is looking to support and look up to those who put themselves forward in authentic ways.

Brian Solis of Altimeter put it succinctly when he said that traditional media’s challenge is in, “figuring out Attention Spans and Engagement”.  A huge, flourishing community is already on their way to determining what draws their attention and engages them. We just need to step in the room, stop projecting our beliefs and, just observe. We’ll hopefully get the point soon enough…