You hear it often in this here industry of ours: it’s a ‘quick win’, an ‘obvious’ way forward – you do a spot of audience analysis, find out where people are talking [about you] and then go and make them buy stuff, right? Simple.
Except, it’s not that easy.
There’s more to it than that.
First you need to make sure you’ve got the right equipment: is the reel strong enough for the fish you’re aiming to hook? Have you got the right bait? Have you brought enough bait? Scratch that, do you even need bait? Perhaps a shiny spinner will work in its place? What hooks will you use?
Hell, have you even organised a boat?
Once you’ve got your kit sorted, then you need to hone your technique: how do you cast? How long should you wait? What do you do when you get a bite? Do you reel in immediately or take your time and let the fish come to you? Again, all things that you need to consider.
Like any good fishing trip, you need time and you need patience. You’re not going to catch Jaws overnight (you might, there is such a thing as beginner’s luck). But know how long you’re going out for and know what fish you’re trying to catch and, crucially, how many fish you need to catch to put a smile on your face.
Moreover, why are you here? Are you fishing for game, or for your supper? How dependent are you on this next catch? If I give you a fish now, would that be OK? Or would you rather work at it and catch it yourself, later?
Remember, in nearly all instances, chance favours the prepared mind and fishing where the fish are is all well and good as long as you know how.
This post is about the recent home release social media activation of the film DRIVE. There maybe spoilers ahead BUT I’ll be sure to yell loudly if they come near. Then again, we may make it without any. We shall see…
Drive: a stunning, nay breathtaking, film from 2011 (some would argue THE film of 2011). Woefully ignored by the Academy but adored by fans worldwide, its a glorious tale of love-driven revenge told through the haze of 70′s LA neon with a soundtrack to match.
On Monday, Jan 30th 2012, Drive got its UK home release on both DVD and Blu-ray and, to celebrate said launch, film-studio-friendly agency, Think Jam, sent out early copies of the film out to a select group of fans on Twitter.
The aim? To kick-start a pre-scheduled participatory/group viewing, snappily referred to as #DriveTime.
But not everyone agreed -
Dan has a point.
In fact, the whole conversation between him and Mike is worth a look (especially as both have proven experience in this kind of marketing). I stumbled across the conversation between the two of them after the film had finished, however found myself unknowingly agreeing with them midway through.
That aside, there’s also the very real issue of SPOILERS.
I would be gutted if someone I followed [on Twitter] unwittingly gave away key plot points throughout any film that I was yet to see (especially on THE DAY of its home release, ie; if you didn’t see it at the cinema then you’re stuffed). In fact, so much did it concern me that I issued my own warning before the film started.
Those issues aside, the ‘event’ seemed to go well. So well in fact, that my friend and I started kicking around some ideas around data visualisation that could work alongside it – yes, that’s right, we’re data geeks.
Bear with me, this is where things get interesting -
But these events, they’re huge, global happenings with hundreds of thousands of tweets to process, giving you an extremely granular level of preciseness that you wouldn’t find with say, 1200 or so tweets… right?
“…I bet they haven’t sold it in.”
One of the great things about these kinds of social media campaigns is that the data is (relatively) free and available for anyone to access. So what if you could steal the data from the Drive activity and not only present it back in a gorgeous fashion, but also demonstrate your skill as a potential new partner in doing so?
“Could you piggy-back another agency’s paid activity to showcase your own?”
Well, as I said, the data is there. So all you would need to do is farm that information and go from there… right?
I’ve cleaned it up somewhat (only showing the data between 7pm and 10pm – the film started at 8pm) but you can clearly see the flurry of activity that happened throughout.
Now, we can sexify this chart (thanks Robbie) and we can also actually map the highlights of the film against the peaks and troughs of conversation.
A – 8pm: the film starts
B – End of [the awesome] opening sequence, ‘Night Call‘ kicks in
C – The Driver meets the girl for the first time – it’s encapsulating
D – Combination of ‘Under your Spell‘ starting + a key killer quote from our hero
E – Sequence of Driver and Irene spending time together [intense]
F – That elevator scene
G – Dip for a(nother) particularly violent piece
H – Film ends, people loved it and tweet according
What are the takeaways from this exercise?
If you’re planning a scheduled viewing (over social media) make it both a) a universally accepted film (read: a classic that most people have seen) and b) perhaps one that’s not so visually sumptuous and arresting. .
Think about THE DATA. Alright there was a Storify after the fact, but if me and my friends can throw together a crude visualisation of what our collective tweets look like… then Christ, what else is possible?
Which in turn asks a bigger question:
If today’s brands (and consumers) are ready to remix anything and everything, what’s to stop the agencies of tomorrow doing the same?
Now in its fourth year, the festival is known for being the key event for the local communications industry and, with an expectation of 3000+ attendees, Nokia were onboard as sponsors; with both a device launch and a booth on site, part of the deal was that they were able to nominate their own speaker for the weekend.
The brief? An introduction to word of mouth marketing; a relatively unknown discipline in that part of the world. Case studies would be a necessity but, while I was permitted to talk a little about the work with Nokia, any heavy-handedness would not be welcome.
‘Perfect’, I thought. ‘It’ll be me, a room of 20 or so people, talking about (and probably kicking ideas around) the idea of word of mouth marketing and what it means to the modern-day brand’. Donezo.
Upon arrival [landing just after midnight, after leaving Beirut in the morning and making a short stopover in London for lunch - long story], I was asked to come down to the venue to meet the team and pick up my credentials.
‘But it’s really late and I doubt it’ll go on for long, I’ll do it tomorrow’, I said. ‘No’, they insisted ‘the party is only just starting. Come now.’
I did, and they were right: the party was only just getting started. However, that wasn’t the only surprise of the night. After meeting and greeting the rest of the people I was there to represent, I was asked if I’d like to see where I’d be speaking on the morrow – ‘Yes’ I replied, ‘that’d be great’, expecting to be shown to some corner/booth somewhere in the main hall.
Oh no. How wrong could I be?
Imagine my surprise as I was shown into the main conference hall and simply told ‘Yes, you’ll be in here’ ‘Sorry? How many people can fit in here?’ ‘Oh, about 900 sitting but probably closer to a full thousand when we fill up at the back’
The following day I rewrote the entire presentation (less Q&A and small numbers, more pretty images and big stories). I had potentially one thousand people to entertain. At 5:30pm. On a Friday. Plus, after once reading about Jyri Engestrom‘s tendency to wear bright red cardigans whenever he gives lectures to large groups of people (it helps the audience keep track of the presenter on stage apparently), I thought I should rock the red trousers too.
We were talking about alternative [read: cheap] ways to build engagement recently. Something tangible, that you can see, feel or hold physically. Like stickers, for example, they’re easy and silly – but what kind? And also, what type of community would they address?
The English definition of ‘currency’ (outside of its obvious monetary connotations) is ‘The fact or quality of being generally accepted or in use‘. Keeping this in mind (and given the universal habit tagging of all things technologically vital and important), laptop stickers could therefore be construed as a currency of the blogging community
If that’s so, then why not make some of those? Good ones mind. Not just your logo on a white background.
Something that will spark a conversation.
This thought process is not new, we used to talk about this kind of community currency back in my SpinVox days: what was it about a certain place or a group of people that would always get them talking and, better yet, what wouldn’t.
A recent video from Heineken was what got me thinking about this again (and what prompted the tweet above, too). Have a look, we’ll regroup on the other side -
Right. Let’s deconstruct this for a second. First off, as I asked the team at 1000heads last week; is this cool?
The general consensus was no, it isn’t. It’s a good video, yes. But using technology for technology’s sake is never a sound strategy for success and alas, that’s exactly what’s going on here.
“Why is this Heineken? Where is their connection?” were other recurring questions. You could argue that the new brand message of ‘open your world’ underpins this whole activity somehow, but you have to look quite hard to see it. And anyway, that much at least is besides the point.
Could this have been done better by taking a closer look at the reality of a festival currency?
Festival currency: what it isn’t
Before we get into what and what does not work around QR codes, let’s first establish that I genuinely do buy the idea that they act as a conversation starter. That’s great in fact. Any excuse to start talking to a new person at large social events is welcome. Well done.
However, as anyone who’s ever been to a festival will tell you, the genuine currency of the modern day festival-goer is communication. To stay in touch, you need that most precious of camping-based premiums: mobile phone battery life.
There is a whole other blog post to come about how the success of the next generation mobile hardware manufacturer depends on this particular aspect of their devices (and breathe), but that’s not for today. Today is about realising that festival-goers aren’t going to spend precious battery life on QR code snapping, especially when it’s the only thing keeping them connected.
Back to those QR codes, hands up who’s got a phone that can scan a QR code out of the box? OK, next question: hands up who’s got a phone that can scan a QR code out of the box that you know about? See what I mean. Shocking.
QR codes are great, but there’s stillsuch a large education piece to be done before anything like this creates any real traction [note: the video proudly points out that 5000 'U-Codes' were printed, not how many were actually scanned].
Taking all of the above into account, it’s clear that the modern day festival goer needs to remain connected, visible and contactable.
Festival currency: what it could be
Flags. This isn’t my idea, first off. Scroggles planted this particular seed when we were working with MTV’s Staying Alive Foundation a few years back. At a festival, if the currency isn’t anything mobile-related (or at least, related to draining mobile power) what else is there?
Think about it.
Print your own message on a [Heineken-branded] flag and suddenly you have something that you can wave to find your friends, stand near or under as a meeting point and ultimately, personalise as much as you like within your own artistic boundaries.
No messing about with esoteric QR codes, no imposing your brand onto that super-valuable phone battery; just simple, visible and useful branding.
Flags, as currency for festival goers.
Laptop stickers, as currency for bloggers.
There are times in my life when I love my job, there are times in my life when I hate my job, there are times in my life when my job opens my eyes to something so freakingly awesome but no matter what happens, I can never tell anyone.
Friends ask me often if I enjoy what I do, whether I’ve seen anything cool lately and/or if I can tell them of anything I’ve seen – “Y’know, blogger to blogger?”
More often than not, I respond with the following – “It’s like the old joke…”
A preacher who liked to play golf every Wednesday at a modest public golf course was standing on the elevated tee at the sixth hole of that course...
He took a few practice swings, and looked across the river to the immaculate private country club nearby.
“Just once I’d like to play at that gorgeous course,” the preacher said to his foursome.
Another player spoke up:
“My company has a reserved tee time at that club for us every Sunday morning, and it’s all paid for, too. But all of a sudden yesterday the boss says we have to travel out of town for a week. It’s a shame to let that tee time go to waste. I could give you a guest pass and you could have it all to yourself. Would do you say?”
Of course this was a dream come true for the preacher, but it put him in a terrible predicament. If he accepted the gift, he would have to miss Sunday worship. He thought to himself,
“I haven’t missed a Sunday service in 17 years of preaching. A sin to be sure, but I am after all just a man trying to do my best like all the rest.”
He succumbed to temptation and accepted the invitation.
On Sunday, the preacher awoke, called his deacon, and said, “I’m terribly sick today, and will not be able to offer service.”
“Well, we surely hope you are feeling better soon,” said the deacon. “What matters most it that your health is blessed, and we shall all pray for you today.”
This made the preacher feel a little guilty, but it was a beautiful clear cool morning, and promised to be a beautiful day. He opened a box from under the bed that had a new folded golf shirt, his cleaned and polished golf shoes, and he put them on instead of his usual clothes.
Later, on the beautiful practice green, the preacher fit right in but couldn’t help feeling conspicuous. At that exact moment up in Heaven, Saint Peter was looking down. He said to God,
“Do you see what is happening down there? I’m very disappointed in this preacher. Surely you are going to do something?”
God replied, “Don’t worry Pete, I’ve got it all figured out.”
St. Pete knew it was best not to question any further, but to just wait patiently and watch for it all to play out. He watched the preacher walk confidently to the first tee, a short par-4. The preacher teed it up, and hit a pretty fair drive, low and straight.
But just then, God waived his hand and created the perfect little wind. The wind carried the ball as if in the hand of God and lifted it down the fairway. The ball took once bounce and landed on the green, kept rolling, swung to the right, barely crept up to the hole, and fell in. It was beautiful.
Up in heaven, St. Pete was very upset.
“An albatross! Are you kidding me? Here is one of our own preachers committing this sin, on a Sunday no less. Just when I’m certain that you are going to offer up the perfect punishment to befit the sin, you instead go and reward him with a once-in-a-lifetime shot?”
God says, “Yes, but calm down Pete. Who is he going to tell?”
I love my job.
I get to see the coolest things in the world before anyone ever will.
My eternal curse is that 99.99 times out of 100?
I’m never going to be able to tell anyone.