An essay on social currency

Guest post by Alexander Southwick– Emerging Solutions and Social Advertising Executive at Fairfax Media

As social media develops to become a mainstream marketing channel for brands, there is a critical need to define the way we measure social success. In line with the traditional measurement metric of ‘reach’, most marketers look to the total number of ‘likes’ or ‘followers’ on their brand accounts as a key objective for their social media activities.
In theory, ‘reach’ should increase the engagement level with brands. Therein lies the dilemma of social networks: a consumer can filter out a brand if they feel they are being interrupted too much (spam). Knowing that the average post on a Facebook brand page will only reach 12% of your audience means that the total number of ‘likes’ a page has isn’t a true reflection of social success. Instead marketers need to look away from reach based messaging, to messaging that is adding value to the communities they are building around their brands: Social currency!

Social currency is a relatively new term that is applied to material being shared across social networks. People deal in social currency to increase their personal or brand standings in the eyes of peers and consumers. In short… something that people want to share and discuss. A brand updating their page with a new viral video gives their users a reason to share with their connections. As a result the creation of content with high social currency will help to add value to the community. Consequently, for marketers to be successful at social media, they need to look to develop content that gives social currency for users to take away and ‘share’, ‘retweet’, ‘reblog’ and ‘repin’ across social networks.

One of the most outstanding example of social currency is the  Red Bull Stratos Jump. It occurred on the 14th of October 2012 and not only did Felix break 3 world records, he helped Red Bull create truly unique and compelling ‘hook’ that people wanted to ‘share’, ‘retweet’, ‘reblog’ and everything in between. With more than 8 million people worldwide watching the Youtube Live stream, the post jump photo of Felix having landed safely has achieved 491,353 Likes, 21,175 comments and 50,508 shares the majority of which occurred in the first hour of it being uploaded! Multiplying the number of shares by the average number of friends a Facebook user has the reach potential got close to 11 million Facebook users. Even by applying the 12% viewing ratio, that still gives you a true reach of 1.32 million! Red Bull associated its brand to content that is so compelling  it became a mainstream topic of conversation. Direct marketing benefits are invaluable!

Creating social currency isn’t easy.
However, by deeply understanding your audience (beyond what they like about your brands & products), identifying what is  most interesting to your fans/followers and potential customers and creating content around it, you will have the keys to provide value. The next thing you need to do is break out of the TVC model and go for a ‘branded entertainment’ production model…. and that isn’t easy… only a few advertisers manage to do this well. The Mary Me Microsoft campaign we blogged about in 2010 and the ‘is it content or is it advertising?‘ post from last December showed good examples. Here is a more recent one: Teaching your consumers something new a in fun way is a particularly good, even if it has a bit of a sombre message –

As more marketers understand the importance of social currency, and consumers gain more power to ignore or amplify their message….  The process of surrounding the target consumer with messaging in an integrated campaign might not hold true anymore. Accurate measurement is critical for social media to keep growing its share in the communications mix. We must re-think how to evaluate social media KPIs and what messaging will achieve these KPIs .

As an agency or advertiser, do you have specific KPIs for your social media campaigns? Are able to clearly measure the benefit they are bringing to your marketing plans?

For more information on how to create social currency read our article “What are the three words that will guarantee social media success?”

Alexander Southwick

Sources:

Red Bull Facebook Page

Is it content or is it advertising?

That is not the right question to ask about online video advertising. The question should be: is it content or is it advertising, do we care? and here is why:

or

So, is it content or is it advertising? Do we care?

With Youtube getting to saturation point (9 to 9.5 mill users un Australia) and the explosion of screen shifting, far gone are the days of the 30s TV Commercial…

PWC predicts that online video is, along with mobile, is to be the fastest growing media category with a +39% from 2013 to 2016 (will represent $280 mill).

A lot of media specialists say that the growth rate would be even greater if there was more premium supply available, more robust standards and measurement…

Looking at it from a social media perspective, I think there is a great way to grow online video presence for advertisers: It’s called Branded entertainment and some advertisers clearly get it:

       Build an extremely strong reach on your own social media touch points (eg: Tourism Australia 3.8 million Facebook fans. It is a lot more than the main catch up TV sites in Australia)

       Create videos that tell a story around your product (preferably with the product not at the centre of the story), grab attention and surprise the audience (eg: Volkswagen The Force

       Broadcast it via your social media community, allowing the main influencers to distribute it first…

I can’t say it is easy to do, but these advertisers have the keys to ignore all the rules enforced by broadcasters and industry bodies around duration and standards, the price tag of premium video ad supply!

I blogged about Red Bull’s secrete ingredients a few months ago. With Felix Baumgartner’s supersonic free fall, Red Bull has once again proven that it doesn’t need to buy media to be on the front page of every major website. So, if you are wondering what advertising will look like in 5 years time… look at Red Bull’s media strategy: Brilliant branded content & cross platform distribution…

 

Marie Sornin

 

 

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