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

Social media: it’s that simple!

The goal isn't to be good at social media, the goal is to be good at business because of social media

credit to @Jaybaer #ADMAWebinar social strategy

How to become a sexy Pinner

I mean someone who builds appeal on Pinterest!
For those who are not familiar with Pinterest; it is a
content sharing service that allows members to “pin” images, videos and other objects… just like a good old pin board or even fridge door! Pinterest is the fastest site in history to break through the 10 million unique visitor mark (11.7 million users globally/ apprx 570K in Australia – Jan 2012). I think that what has made Pinterest so popular (at least to women) is its visual appeal. Like Nancy Georges described it at last week’s social media womenPinterest is “A real Beautiful, Delicious eye candy”.

If you are in home decor, art, craft, fashion, style or deign, food, travel, Pinterest could become a great marketing tool for you!

Sexy

Here are some key tips gathered at the social media women event last week:

– Start Pinning before you follow people, you must demonstrate insights to your creativity when they start following you.
– Select topics you like so that you feel like participating!
– Add pin it button to your bookmarks, it makes it super easy to pin as you browse the web!
– Just like on any other social networks: follow the rules of engagement: don’t pin in blocks, don’t “spam pin”, follow people you like, acknowledge when someone re-pins your content (and follow them if you fin their creativity interesting), re-pin and like when you see something you love!
– Act like you are the editor of your own magazine: build boards that resonate with you and your creativity. Make it fun for you and you “audience”!!
– Make your board names interesting and attention grabbing (eg: Sarah says). Create storyboards (eg: a board for anything to do with summer, orange…)
– Go mobile: download the app for iphone or Android. It will help you be spontaneous and more authentic.
– Explore & discover: use the search button & the drop down. Give yourself a goal to use Pinterest (eg: accessories you need for a party, home reno, plan a holiday…)
– Upload videos: there is not a lot of video content yet, so easy way to get noticed!

Happy Sexy Pinning!

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

 

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