What are Red Bull’s secret ingredients?

Taurine, glucuronolactone, caffeine, B vitamins, sucrose and glucose are definitely no secret…. So what makes Red Bull the number one energy drink, selling almost 4 billion cans of this high octane every year? Red Bull has managed to open up a totally new soft drinks segment and dominate it ever since; would it have to do with their unique communication strategy?

The Red Bull communication strategy is all about associating the product with the coolest thing to a young male target audience. Their numerous initiatives range from extreme sports to art shows, music, and video games.  The difference is that Red Bull really maximises their media activities further than other brands. They not only sponsor events or celebs and stick their logo everywhere… they also create their own events and generate branded entertainment from them! It’s then pretty simple: Make branded content SO COOL that once you watch it you will want to share it.

Proof by example, watch this:

So? didn’t you find it so awesome you would have posted it on your Facebook wall? I did when I watched it for the first time.

 I have often said that Content is at the heart of a good social strategy. Red Bull pushes this further by demonstrating that content and social can be at the heart of a brand strategy. Check out the Red Bull corporate website: www.redbull.com definitely not about product information…

– 1st secret ingredient: understand what would appeal to your audience. Not the mainstream stuff, but the inspirational stuff, hence the cliff diving, Parkour, skating…
– 2nd secret ingredient: carefully select your talents, directors, producers and create break throughs… hence their formula 1 pilot Sebastian Vettel (youngest-ever championship runner-up and current world champion). When putting the team together Red Bull was looking for a potential rather than a winner at the time.
-3rd secret ingredient: use opinion leaders within your target audience to spread the content, from there build your own community, hence the integration of every single of their athletes within their brand social strategy. That makes over 300 personalities who genuinely amplify Red Bull’s communication!
-4th secret ingredient: curate your community… with over 22 millions global fans on their Facebook page, plus thousands more on their sub categories (record production, teams, flights…) Red Bull is increasing the focus given to their own distribution channels (mobile & web TV with social integration).

With the recent F8 summit, we have heard a lot about “social by design” I think that Red Bull had nailed this concept very early on in the very essence their marketing activity. Their strategy embraces cross platform story telling, participation and audience engagement. This is also reflected in the way Red Bull works on the deployment of its media activities:

 “The Red Bull approach ensures that storytelling is at the heart of every idea, event, relationship and initiative. That’s such a huge advantage when it comes to creating amazing content, and driving a social response. It made the job a bit of a dream come true for any communications person. The good news is, it’s not out of reach for other brands, but it does require a shift in thinking.”

Christie Poulos spent six years at Red Bull UK, and now owns Jumpshot, specialising in Brand Entertainment Strategy & Creation

 In summary I thought this was an interesting case study to share as a lot of brands are looking at ways to best use social media. Red Bull is doing it well and there is a lot we can learn from the product I feel like calling “the Facebook of energy drinks”.

 If you are interested in reading more about the Red Bullionare, here is a good article on The SMH

 Marie Sornin


The best techniques to drive traffic from Twitter – Proven by Conversant Media

This post focuses on some of the social media techniques used by our friends at Conversant Media to best engage Twitter audiences. In just a few years, Zac and his team have become a serious player in the Australian digital media landscape. They have managed to build significant traffic – over half a million UBs/ month – and highly engaged audiences on their web properties: The Roar and Lost At E Minor.

What are they doing differently from other media owners?  

On top of their well thought-out positioning, high quality content and smart advertising solutions, they are forward thinkers, who are flexible and continually pulsing the market.

Those points might seem obvious but I haven’t seen a lot of publishers working remotely and efficiently (we are talking, Newcastle, New York City and Sydney) like Conversant Media. They utilised a variety of tools to make distribution work, such as Yammer for their internal communications and Google apps for team video chats.

When it comes to Twitter, here is some practical advice from Zac (MD), Zolton (Publisher) and Tristan (Head of Content & Community).

1. Time is traffic


Tweet your best content regularly and around the clock loading Tweets via social dashboards like Hootsuite.  Not every marketer would agree with the following but it does work: rehash popular past Tweets (copying them from su.pr, which archives all sent Tweets in their proper format) to run again several days/weeks/months after they first ran. As Twitter moves extremely quickly, and people don’t ‘sit on it’, like they do Facebook, they invariably miss a significant portion of what you Tweet. So consider pushing more popular Tweets out there reasonably often to put them in front as many users as possible. Ensure these Tweets are not timely though!

Try to break news when possible to give our followers facts and opinion on breaking stories. Timing is critical, especially for sites like
The Roar where a lot of sports information loses its relevancy within hours.

2.  Be short and sweet
Twitter for what it’s meant for, passing information along. Keep your Tweets short to enable your followers to Retweet and add a lead-in message if they want to.

3. Mix and match



Conversant swap Tweets with like-minded Tweeters as part of free a traffic/Twitter growth initiative called Tweet Swap. It provides good content for Conversant’s followers, and also brings new audiences to the participants of the scheme.

Mix up your
Twitter  feed with Tweets that link off to other sites in order to keep your feed diverse and your readers interested /connected with the content that you push out there. An easy way to do that is to use your partners, colleagues, and employees… Conversant Media have a number of columnists (with their own base of followers) and our trio constantly encourages them Retweet content, amplifying the Twitter accounts of each site.

Seek to join debate when possible, comment on blog, and participate in forums with your Tweeter identity.

Try to follow accounts of Tweeps who are enthusiasts and authority around your discipline or passion point.

6. BUT
There is one headache: measurement.

Zac says measuring traffic from Twitter is very confusing and difficult. This is not specific to Conversant Media of course. Evaluating the exact traffic generated by
Twitter is tricky because users consume Twitter streams mostly via third party tools such as Hootsuite and mobile clients, rather than Twitter itself… that’s not all, almost all links are shortened by third-party URL shorteners, such as bit.ly, goo.gl, ow.ly, su.pr … and to add to the confusion it seems that some content publishing platforms might recognise if a bit.ly link comes via Twitter. This is an area which is in desperate need of consolidation.

I’d love to hear other point of views on what works, or doesn’t and how you are measuring the impact of Twitter on your campaigns, sites, blogs traffic, SEO rankings… C’mon and share

Marie Sornin

Big thanks to Zac- Zolton-Tristan


Making tracks in social media

The tourism Australia “making tracks” campaign just won the 2011 IAB award for social media marketing and picked up best in show at the same time.  The campaign is now shortlisted for the US IAB MIXX Awards.

The Youtube Symphony Orchestra was a unique opportunity to put Australia on the map for a night! The 2009 edition at New York City’s Carnegie hall sold out instantly and generated 15 millions YouTube views on the date.

What was smart from Tourism Australia was to not only leverage the final event at the Sydney opera house and broadcast it on TV or make a beautiful ad out of it but to get the participating musicians to visit Australia! The “making tracks” idea was to pair up one Australian and one international musician and send them to stunning places around Australia to write music based on their experience! We would all agree that Australian landscapes are breathtaking and magical… using them as a source of inspiration for artists coming from all over the world was a great way to associate the YouTube Symphony Orchestra and Tourism Australia! 

 The concept had double benefits for Tourism Australia; at the end of the campaign they had produced:
1/beautiful music tracks
2/ unique branded content

This is episode 1:

Very smart indeed when you know that:
1/ most users turn to social networking for exclusive information and not only for commercial offers/freebies
2/ visuals are one of the most powerful triggers for travel!

To me the success of the campaign lies in a very simple insight: you can’t go wrong when you produce quality content!

 But quality content is only the beginning of the story, what made it a success (once again simple but powerful) was the paid & earned distribution strategy of this content. 

The 4 short movies were released one after the other to build momentum towards the final YouTube Symphony Orchestra event at the Sydney opera house on March 20th 2011.

For maximum viewership the episodes were first released on the Tourism Australia website, branded YouTube channel and Twitter feed. Users were invited to engage with interactive features on the Facebook page and via the YouTube Symphony Orchestra portal. The musicians themselves were blogging/tweeting and Facebooking about their Australian journeys. It was authentic and real, so the audience was ready to carry it! Because it was content, and not ads, global media platforms also picked up the films… and here you are, that created the amazing ripple effect that we know: 2.7 million episode views and Australian version of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra final concert generated a record high 33 million views globally! What a great exposure for Australia as a tourist destination!!

Congrats to everyone involved in this campaign for beautiful ideas, music, people and places together!

Good luck in New York!

Marie Sornin


Blogi Cyber Lions awards

A selection of my favorite campaigns from the 2011 Cyber Lions Awards.
Not in order of preference. Have a look for insipiration


Pay with a Tweet- Grand Prix winner

<p>Pay with a Tweet – Case Study – OMG version from Leif on Vimeo.</p>
Why I like:because they invented the Twitter$ and opened the door to a new era of cost per engagement

The Wilderness Downtown- Grand Prix winner & more

Why I like: Because it gave me goose bumps when I types my old address in Paris. Not all ads do that!
Seriously, if you haven’t tried it,click here and type your address

Let’s color movement- Bronze winner

Why I like: Because I believe that a color movement would make the world a better place

Google Art Project- Gold winner

Why I like: Because Telepresence is the future, they made it in the present


The Force: Volkswagen- Gold winner

Why I like: Becaue the fact that this campaign poped up a million time on my Facebook news feed illustrates how good this content is!


There were a lot of other good campaigns in the Cyber Lions winners like the Mini gateaway Stockholm , the Decode Jay-Z with Bing (Titatium winner)… but some outstanding digital work was also delivered through cross platform campaigns. Most, if not all of you (at least in Australia) have seen the NAB break up campaign (PR Grand Prix winner), the Home Plus in Korea (media Grand Prix winner) is also a brilliant retail mobile campaign.

What were your favorite ad campaigns last year?


Marie Sornin


The Government does social and learns from it!

I was invited to present at the Government Marketing Communications conference in Canberra on May 27th and 28th. I am not going to share my presentation but two success stories presented by Jessica Ewens Senior campaign manager at the Department of Families, Housing, Community and Ingenious Affairs and Daniel Sheehy, Web content Manager at the NSW Police Force.

The Line- How social media can be the pillar of a behaviour change campaign
The Line campaign is part of the time for action report, a broad initiative aiming at informing and changing young people’s behaviour towards relationships. Jessica explained that prior to deploying the campaign the Department lead thorough research about teenagers. They found that it is between the ages of 12 to 20 that teens shape the way they interact with each others; and that a high part of their conversations happen on digital and social networking spaces. It became obvious for the Department to promote their messages on Facebook, Youtube and a blog enabled website. They also understood that for it to work, the campaign had to be conversational and that the government couldn’t afford to appear authoritative. This digital approach was also supported print, press, PR, music partnerships and artist endorsements.

Social Academy @ the NSW Police Force
In just over a year the NSW Police Force Facebook page grew from nonexistent to 42K active fans. It didn’t happen by chance. Daniel demonstrated the value of social media to his his peers and officers by using the below tricks:

          Show that people are already talking about your organisation outside or your touch points

          Explain how social could make their job easier/ more effective (eg: detectives)

          Invite other organisations to come in and share their success

From there, it was the beginning of his social media boot camp! He was allowed to take the @nswpolice Twitter account over from the smart arse advertising agency that had set it up in 2009 with the hope of “selling” it back to the Police at appropriate time. The NSW Police Force now has 12K followers on Twitter, 870K views on their Youtube channel (with a spike at 100K views on a single video relating an egging incident on the person of Justin Bieber), and 42K “Likes” and their Facebook page.
The NSW Police Force don’t do social networking because it’s trendy; they do it because it brings real benefits to the communities.

          Encourage people to report crime

          Educate people about crime prevention & safety

          Create community confidence, reassurance and goodwill for NSW Police Force

          Provide public with important information at specific time (events, crisis…)

          Rewards & fun: It is not all about crime and busting the bad guys. NSW Police Force recently ran the Police Puppy Naming Poll


Jessica and Daniel reported two very different experiences but the learnings that their organisations drew from their involvement in Social Marketing were very similar.
They both said that when they turned social media channels on, officials were ready to face criticism but that most of the time the community regulates itself and wants the dialogue to remain free and open (because they maintained an active and healthy community)! They also said that the conversation is already happening elsewhere on the web and that felt a responsibility for the authority the drive the dialogue to constructive outcome. They also said they absolutely love participating in such a fast evolving medium and that they still have a lot to learn and experiment!

Marie Sornin

Twitter dominates conversation about the Royal Wedding

The micro blogging platform hosted most of conversation about the Royal Wedding in Australia, in the UK and in the USA

On Friday the 28th the world turned to the TV to watch one of the most expected events of the recent years – the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. So many expectations about the bride’s dress, the menu, guest list and the ceremony made people turn to the internet to search for information, comment about it and share their feelings about the big event.

As we experienced in previous events such as the Japan and New Zealand’s earthquakes, conversation in social networks increased during this period. However, this time surprisingly Twitter smashed the other channels and hosted almost 90% of the buzz around the Royal Wedding.

According to the listening platform Radian6, in Australia, 88% of the conversation around the Royal Wedding took place on the micro blogging system, leaving behind News Sites (4%), Blogs (3%) and Forums (1%). Same figures happened in the United Kingdom, where Twitter hosted 89% of the conversation followed by Blogs (3%), News Sites (3%) and Forums (1%).

In the United States, where Twitter was created, the situation is a little bit different. The micro blogging platform still dominates conversation but not as much as in the UK and Australia. In the US, Twitter hosted 66% of the conversations, followed by Blogs (13%), Facebook* (11%), Forums (2%) and News Sites (2%). This shows that in the US the media was less interested in the Royal Wedding than the media in the UK and in Australia.

Share of Royal Wedding conversation for each channel in the 30 days that preceed the event:



Source: Radian6


Americans are less enthusiastic about the Royal Wedding

The americans reacted differently to the british and Australian nations. Not only regarding the channel they used to talk about the event, they also have the lowest positive sentiment towards the Royal Wedding – 53%, compared to Australians (60%) and the british who lead positive sentiment with 64%.

Source: Radian6

*Due to privacy facebook only allows social listening platform to listen in public pages, not personal profiles.

Success story + love story= cash.

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With 23%* of its users accessing Facebook from their mobile and “check-ins” sky rocketing since the launch of Facebook places, “Deals” (the next location based Facebook feature) is bound to be a commercial success.


            Group buying= success story


            Social & mobile= love story


            Facebook deals= cash


Deals” is part of Facebook payments which organizes the revenue stream of Facebook credits and seems to be set up for a transaction platform that could go well beyond social currency.


Already live in the USA and Europe since November 2010, it was initially scheduled for the 3rd week of March in Australia but has been pushed back to end of Q2 2011. Australian users can already register for deals but won’t have access to offers until later this year.


Although we don’t have data on the business generated by retailers which have implemented “Deals” overseas, we can clearly foresee value to encourage loyalty, up sell, and grow earned visibility.

“Deals” will be available for merchants which are already active within Facebook, so might you be a local business owner or a major national retailer, you must prepare now if you want to take advantage of “Deals” right when it gets released. Here is your roadmap!


1-      Build a strong Facebook fan base:
Facebook aims at launching deals with pages that have a minimum of 10 to 15K likes. If you are not there yet, you have a few months to boost your recruitment. This aim is imposed by Facebook for the only reason that without scale, companies shouldn’t expect many sales from “Deals”…
It also seems that a significant ad investment would help to be amongst the launch partners. I am thinking that those rules won’t apply to small businesses and that they will be able to manually create and push their local offers.


2-      Audit your places:
For now the data available in Facebook places is provided by Wikipedia and Factual + user generated. This doesn’t mean that all your stores have been created or that they are all accurately located and up to date. Facebook should be able to help sort this out for key retailers only. For others: convenient to know that the format used for Google maps is also accepted by Facebook.

3-      Create the right offers:
Offers should be aimed at:

a.       Generating more/ frequent visit to point of sales

b.      Product cross sell/ up sell

c.       Reward loyal customers

But they could also be a social tactic and create:

d.      talk ability

e.       High impact

To achieve this: better to create offers that are available nationally (can be supported by advertising, catalogues,…)

For those who have created offers in foursquare before, you have the advantage of already knowing what works best for you.


4-      Inform & train your staff:
Very important point, and often where traditional retailers struggle is to inform all stores and train the staff who is going to be redeeming the offers. The best way would be to inform your store managers and make them responsible for the deployment.


All that Facebook can tell you about “Deals” is here:


By the way, did anyone notice the quite release of “Questions”? have you tried it?


Marie Sornin

*source: Facebook- Mediabrands research- March 2011