It’s always worth bearing in mind that new developments in the social web rarely completely erase those that went before. MySpace is planning a revamp that looks like a tablet-ready Pinterest for music.
This dropped into my mailbox yesterday:
About two and a half year ago, when she joined Visit Cornwall, she started talking about blended marketing – to some scepticism. But they agreed objectives: get visitors, get them to come back, and to spend more while they’re in Cornwall. They decided that the websites should be a brilliant planning and research tool, giving them information they can’t get anywhere else. they’d leave price and availability to others.
Cornwall is so vast in terms of its offer, that there are parts of it appeal to pretty much all elements of the potential tourism market. Which is, basically, a nightmare for marketeers. Oh, and people research their visits around six months ahead. So, it needs to look current in January – but also be relevant to people planning for June. Their website planning was beginning to look worryingly vague…
She used to work for the Eden Project. That site launched Real Cool Futures that allowed children to dig down into personally applicable case studies to help plan their careers. Could she take that idea and apply it to the Visit Cornwall website? That would be one way of making it a must-visit portal, and one that could cater to that wide range of visitors – and do that by recognising their needs really early in the visit. Nameless pitched and won the contract. They “guerrilla researched” the project, which meant a lot of time, posit notes and painstaking detail…
On the website, filters allow you to chose the party – and their ages. You can filter for dog-friendly and access issues. You can choose which section of Cornwall you’re going to, and when you’re going. That opens up another level of filtering around activities.
It’s been live since March. They’ve had a difficult year – constant rain in the UK hasn’t helped Cornwall. But they’re working on developing the site for next year.
Matt is going to talk to us about his favourite subjects – content and football. Apparently he’s miserable, downbeat and sarcastic… He writes a blog – View from the West Stand – about Leyton Orient (and it was a commenter on his blog that gave him that flattering description). He works at Zone, a digital agency based in London, with a mix of planners, creatives – and journalists.
In June 2010 BT announced that it was going to show Sky Sports 1 & 2 on their digital TV service – BT Vision. And BT is a brand with no heritage in football. In the pre-digital world, they’d have bought credibility with a football celeb. But then, in the pre-digital world marketing was really, really easy. Come up with a proposition, create your content, and bash your audience over the head with it. you’ve seen Mad Men. They were all drunk – anyone could do it.
In the digital world, it’s all out of your control. Conversations happen all the time, and anyone can make a vast amount of noise about your brand. Content can become part of these conversation by giving people something of value to discuss. And you’ll get business and loyalty out of it.
BT already understood this. They’d set up a a website called Life’s a Pitch. They used newspaper journalist to create content. But the writers they were using didn’t understand how to engage. Theres no point in being credible if no-one’s listening. They were getting 100s of visits a week. Zone took over and brought in a full time editor, reached out to noisy online football people, and spread content. Dan, the editor, comes from the fan base. He understands. But equally, they needed to find the 6% of people who make 80% of the noise about a subject. They needed to find the real online content stars in football. They found a diverse range of people who deeply understood how to connect with an online audience. They know how to create content that gets that audience excited. And they became the content creators and distributors. They brought their audiences with them – by seeding and distributing what they wrote to their existing base.
There’s a news aggregator called newsnow.co.uk which people use to keep on top of their club’s news. It drove 47% of the traffic to the site.
Their issues included the huge volume of existing digital football content. Previews and reviews already happen. No point in competing. No point in competing on news – Sky have that. No point in doing interviews, because footballers are genetically boring.
BUT fans love high quality, opinionated material. So that’s what they went for. Provocative tactical analysis works well. Perspective amongst hysteria is good, too. Poking fun at millionaire footballers gets lots of traffic. Criticising popular figures – or praising unpopular ones goes over well. And seize the chance to pick up the baton where fans feel ignored.
They do video as well. They get the bloggers alongside national journalists, and then they seed and distribute the content.
They increased traffic by 1465% – and it’s been growing ever since. And that’s off a distribution channel focused on the content creators. All for far less than the cost of hiring a celeb.
Now, BT has grabbed the Premier League off Sky. Life’s a Pitch will be a hugely important part of that story. They have content, an audience, and relationships with them. Now they need to convert that audience to customers, while maintaining the relationship.
- Don’t think about digital content in isolation from its method of distribution
- It’s as much about targeted influencers as targeted audiences
- Quality really, really matters
How do we interpret Shakespeare in the 21st century?
That was the question that the RSC digital content team set out to answer in a project for the World Shakespeare Festival. There’s a awesome amount of digital content about Shakespeare online already. Why create a blank page when so many people are already accessing and creating stuff online?
The internet has created an opportunity to share and interact with all the responses and interpretations of Shakespeare online. They wanted to showcase all this – and they created a Banquo database, the digital ghost of people’s interest in Shakespeare. Our sense of memory has changed on the internet. We can be reminded of our mistakes and the things we do well.
Banquo looks for mentions of Shakespeare on Twitter (social), Flickr (visual) and eBay (value). On any day in a month you can see an online gallery of what people have done around Shakespeare on those days.
The next step was to allow artists to explore these ideas, ideally those without relationship to Shakespeare. They worked with students from Central St Martins – could they inspire the RSC? Brendan Dawes (sp?) built a link between the news api and Shakespeare quotes, to match events with quotes. One artist is using a Tumblr to explore the deeper reaches of Google searches to find how the works of Shakespeare inform society, from an Ophelia wedding dress to Shakespeare Solictors. And a Hip Hop artist combined Hip Hop with iambic pentameter on SoundCloud.
They invited a range of people to write think pieces on Shakespeare. One student wrote an insightful essay exploring the idea that we encounter plays differently now – we can watch Ophelia’s death again and again, on YouTube, in isolation. The play is fragmented, and that demands a different response.
Language has changed – we’re sharing, not telling. The narrative has factored. The canvas is changed – it can be shorter, it’s probably digital. They have new audiences who are semantically close to them, not geographically. And hopeful this creates spaces for new works. They have no excuse for not listening and for not valuing insights.
Archives are being opened, and things are being shared where everyone can see them. The past, present and future can meet.
On the 12th January 2010, a massive earthquake hit Haiti. Within hours, the Governement’s humanitarian team is assessing and looking to get people on the grounds. And the comms team need to be communicating as quickly. Their aim was to show the impact of the aid while it was happening, while being the authoritative voice of the UK government. They had to inform the public, other aid workers and the news makers. Long term, they wanted to turn spikes on interest into enduring engagement.
They started with fact sheets for the public, and for aid workers on the ground. They got updates from the secretary of state out on Twitter. Timescales are the big thing in this situation. You need people hands-on around the clock. You need people on call, and systems ready for breaking events.
- Work with what you’ve got – draw on available content, update and customise it to the event
- Work with pruners to bring in other content
- See what your people in the field can contribute
- Be creative with what you get – what can you do at home base to supplement what’s coming from the site?
They pushed updates that came to then via Text out through Twitter, using hashtags to indicate whose updates they were. Press officers are often frustrated journalists – and love being the ones getting the news out there.
- Updates on the ground – rolling news page, Twitter
- Pictures of the aid’s impact – Flickr and YouTube
- Experts from London – blog
Photos and videos of British firefighters in action in Haiti were reused by national news media.
How did they then sift to ongoing engagement? They kept the coverage going beyond the media spotlight. They kept using real life stories, about the people helped. And they did progress reports, including bit multimedia feature six months and a year on.
Have a digital team ready to deploy to the scene of a disaster
Interactive content could offer an immersive understanding. Digital content can really aid people in understanding both the impact of a disaster and of aid on the ground – that excites him. Emerging digital platforms are becoming a huge part of aid efforts, allowing people to communicate their situation – and aid workers to assess and plan.
Everything this did is still on the DFID website.
Anthony Palmer has spent the last few years working for the Olympic Delivery Authority, capturing and communicating the process of building the Olympic park. He’s going to condense to 20 minutes that took four years to do…
In March 2008, the whole of the Olympics Park – about the size of Hyde Park – was only just a construction site.
ODA had to build the set, while LOCOG put on the show. The ODA was regenerating the East End, LOCOG inspiring a generation. And his role was to show the world what was happening. He lives in Stratford – he was able to photograph the streets being destroyed before the big blue fence went up. However, the images weren’t just of decay – they had fantastic designs for the new, sustainable venues.
The third element of the communications were the local community – who found the biggest construction site in Europe happening on their doorstep.
All of their comms included the lustiest images and video. The ones with aerial photos and video were absolutely lapped up. In 2008, they started a process of using webcams. In 2012? There’s loads of broken links on the site. He’s no longer running it – it was handed over to LOCOG a year ago. But he can show us a photo of the webcam – a metal box on a scaffold on a roof in Stratford, with a camera, a hard drive and a 3G connection. The stadium cam was taking an image every 10 minutes during daylight – 90 images a day. There were no tall buildings north of the sites, so the contractors kindly built them a scaffold on top of the site office.
They started harvesting the photos into written blog posts – and from their into an image gallery. There’s a limited gallery of images left on the active site. They were a victim of the image gallery created within the CMS – rather than, say, hosting them on Flickr. But there are a lot of brand restrictions on what the organising committee can or can’t do. Non-sponsors couldn’t have a presence on the website, which limited their options.
The webcams were getting about 100,000 hits a month – during period when the general site wasn’t getting much traffic. They were always the most popular part of the site.
They did videos of visits – like Tom Daley on the completed dive tower -, they did fly-throughs twice a year, and behind the scenes stories. They had to white label host the videos – as a non-sponsor like YouTube couldn’t have a presence on the main site. However, all the videos are available separately on YouTube itself.
He’s proud of what they did – they added something different to the content mix, not just adding to the editorial noise. They let people look into the park and see what was going on.
Too many brands attempt to establish communities with no clear purpose to that community, or plan for what they’re going to talk about not just over the next few weeks, but long-term. So they soon find that they can only talk about themselves for so long and they start to run out of interesting things to say.
For “brands”, you can equally well read “publishers”. The days where publishers could afford to throw up communities and see what happened are long gone – and were probably an illusion even when we thought we could. Chasing buzzwords is never a great idea unless you have a clear vision of how it fits into your overall content strategy.
Neil’s piece does a nice job of setting out a rule of thumb of how to balance experimental and bread-and-butter content. Well worth a read.
IFTTT CEO Linden Tibbets:
In recent weeks, Twitter announced policy changes* that will affect how applications and users like yourself can interact with Twitter’s data. As a result of these changes, on September 27th we will be removing all Twitter Triggers, disabling your ability to push tweets to places like email, Evernote and Facebook. All Personal and Shared Recipes using a Twitter Trigger will also be removed.
I don’t think anyone objects to the idea of Twitter going in search of a business model. Seeking to make that work by progressively making the service less and less useful to a subset of their users while chasing the mainstream seems like an odd decision to me.
Remember when TV shows had links to AOL keywords or MySpace pages on-screen? The mainstream is fickle, Twitter. You may live to regret this.