Gussy Up Your Content! #SESSF Tips for Making Stale Content Sexy

Posted in Content, SES San Francisco

Welcome back to coverage of Day 1 #SESSF! Whether you believe online content is king, queen, or almighty empress of the universe, one thing’s for sure: content is sexy. Or, at least, it should be. How else can it be expected to gain attention from social communities, garner traffic, eyeballs, links in abundance, and eventually translate to new business?

Of course, we don’t all have the luxury of writing copy for lingerie and foxy sports cars. The sexiness therein is pretty much inherent. What of those marketing home insurance and funeral parlors and B2B medicinal equipment? Gussying up such content so that it excites people is no easy feat. And doing it on the cheap? Pfft.

Fortunately, Noran El-Shinnawy, Director of Marketing, BoostCTR was ready to led social-savvy speakers Liana Evans, Author and Co-Founder & CEO, LiBeck Integrated Marketing, Jeffrey Harmon, Chief Marketing Officer, Orabrush, Mike La Rotonda, CEO and Co-Founder, Votigo, and Jeff Revoy, Chief Product, Marketing & Strategy Officer, iContact through the late morning audience choice session, Like Me! Social & Viral Content Tips for Making Your Brand More Sexy. Together, the team of panelists shared case studies featuring… arguably less than sexy brands… and how they were able to gain meaningful traction by means of social media in a cost-effective manner.

aimClear live-tweeted this session via @beebow. Read on for the full effect.

Noran took the mic and introduced the panelists, highlighting three thoughtful details about each one. (FACT: Two of the four panelists were extreme mountain bikers. Up to you to guess which two!)

First to present was Liana Evans, who began by asking the age old question, “How do you get Likes for a business that isn’t quite so… sexy?” It’s natural– everyone wants to go viral. But it’s not so easy for the less sexy brands out there.

Come to think of it… it’s not so easy for the sexy brands out there, either. Yes, virility of a social media marketing campaign is something that is more or less out of the hands of those doing the marketing. Campaigns that do end up hitting the big time & garnering millions of YouTube video views, Facebook shares, and social buzz in general tend to have a common theme: the virility was a complete accident.

Most things that go viral weren’t constructed around the possibility of going viral, Li points out. This makes for a pleasant surprise when they do, but it also makes it difficult to measure the impact, or conversions, because oftentimes, no benchmarks were set in place, no one was at helm monitoring and managing all the buzz.

Characteristics of Successful Viral Campaigns

  • With viral, timing is everything! Li emphasizes that viral is all about being in the moment. Life and culture are always changing—the current events and associated emotions are constantly evolving. In short: What works today won’t work tomorrow.
  • Most viral videos do not sell. They’re funny, silly, poignant– there is something about them that catches your emotion. There is never an expectation of a purchase. They create value to the viewer, even if that value is simply a laugh or smile.
  • You don’t have to be sexy to be valuable. Viral is short-lived. It’s about getting a lot of traffic, a lot of views… a lot of value!
  • When you’re valuable, you’re “sticky.” Sticky means people keep coming back to you for more and more information, or more entertainment. They’re stuck on you :) When you’re sticky, people will likely recommend you to their friends — they will become fans, evangelists, ambassadors.
  • When planning “viral” content, you have to be unique. Think differently than your competitors. Don’t be a copycat.
  • Be valuable in your own community. Don’t focus on tapping into mainstream social media—that’s a big bite to swallow. Instead, focus on connecting with the community surrounding your product. You never know – it might take serious legs from there and infiltrate the mainstream on its own.

Casestudy: Big Tony the Plumber
Look. Plumbing isn’t sexy. Big Tony isn’t sexy (unless, you know… he’s your type). And yet… heaps of his DIY videos have tens of thousands of views. Tens of thousands of views! That’s nothing to scoff at! And if you’ve ever seen any of his vids, you’ll see they were made on the cheap.

Duhhh… How did he do that?!

What makes Big Tony’s videos resonate?

  • They speak directly to the crowd with which he wants to connect – his own community of DIY-lovin’ homeowners.
  • His videos offer valuable information to the user.
  • Channel engagement is very high. Big Tony monitors his comment threads, and always engages when someone comes around with a question.

Understand Your Goal
Before you begin planning a viral campaign, examine your goal with wanting to go viral in social media. What do you want to achieve?

Take a look at the Old Spice Guy. What was the goal? To sell soap to men? No. If it was, you bet your fanny they would have used some drop-dead supermodel telling men to buy Old Spice.

No. The goal of this campaign was to was to change the perception of women regarding Old Spice. Most women, it seemed (myself included), when they thought of Old Spice, thought of their fathers, or their grandfathers. It is, after all, a pretty ancient product. Women didn’t think of sexy, steamy, chiseled, towel-clad Isaiah Mustafa their boyfriends or husbands.

(Also: note, the Old Spice Guy campaign didn’t go viral because the spokesman they chose was sexy, steamy, chiseled, and towel-clad. That didn’t hurt, of course… No – it went viral because they did not shove the product down viewers’ throats. Erhm…)

While the Old Spice viral campaign did translate to selling things in the end, but chief goal was to change perception of women. And it did. Boy, did it ever.

Make it Sharable
If you expect (want) something to go viral, make it sharable. Remember the Man with the Golden Voice? The first instance of that video came from The Columbus Dispatch. But that’s not the video that went viral. Why? It was poorly optimized. There was no share button functionality on the video. That news source was so concerned with controlling the content, they missed a huge opportunity to be on the coattails of an amazing viral sensation.

So, what did someone do? Someone ripped the video and put it up on YouTube. That’s the video that went viral. D’oh! MSNBC swooped in, made the video very sharable—very socially-friendly. All that link juice pointed back to MSNBC. Win!

How can you be that valuable resource?

  • Find the passion of your community. Hitting emotion causes passionate actions.
  • When you focus on what people want, you can connect with an audience in a meaningful way that provides value & garners attention.
  • Focus on the quality of your community, not the quantity. Would you rather have 30k+ fans who follow you, or 1k fans who, over 50% read on your content?

When you solve a need, you become valuable, and [fans] wont want to let you go. – Liana Evans

Sage Advice:

  • Give Up Control. It’s social media. You don’t really “own” anything anymore.
  • Your audience wants to feel connected to you. They want to feel like they help make your success. Let them help J
  • Don’t sit back and expect it to happen– act now! Get your audience involved! Ask questions, ask them to submit photos, give them polls, quizzes, interactive videos to play with, etc.
  • Be realistic – don’t create pieces with the intent of going viral. BUT, be prepared in case it does.
  • Know what you want to measure – traffic, buzz, shares, links, etc.
  • Don’t forget to integrate – mix in social with efforts in PR, SEO, and other social channels. Optimize everything!

And with that, Li wraps up, and hands the mic over to Mike LaRotonda. Mike focused his presentation on using UGC (user generated content) in social media campaigns, i.e. – how you can get your users integrated with your campaigns – how to leverage communication for content.

Benefits of UGC

  • Very cost effective
  • Virally spreads your marketing message
  • Builds community around brand
  • Helps grow customer base

How do you get all that UGC?

  • Ask for it! post Qs to your FB wall, offer polls, surveys, etc.
  • Start slow, but… start J
  • Seed with contests — photo or video.

If your product isn’t sexy, focus on intangible benefits. Does your product save people time? What do you do with saved time? Here, creativity is a must.

Tips for Successful Photo / Video Contests

  • Clearly define objective.
  • Pick your platforms.
  • Make it social*
  • Choose right partner.

* “Make it social” is two-fold. Aim to provide the right tools for sharing AND make it something that people would WANT to share.

Mike next ran through a couple case studies of less-than-sexy brands garnering success with social media.

  • ShoreTel – An IP phone systemwith blah blah unsexy so unsexy I didn’t listen built in to it. ShoreTel created a “How do you untangle complexity?” video contest.
    • The results: 60 video uploads, meaning fresh Facebook content and YouTube content. Not bad :)
  • FastSigns – They create signage for businesses. Ho hum. They hosted a video contest asking people to submit a clip explaining why they were most deserving of their own signage makeover. Campaign objectives – engage consumers, generate awareness, increase fans.
    • The results: 360 submissions. Not bad, not bad at all!

All in all: contests are where it’s at. They’re relatively inexpensive (mainly all your’e doing is asking other people to do something) and yield (hopefully) awesome UGC you can repurpose and share across your social channels.

Mike wrapped up and tossed the mic over to Jeff Revoy. Jeff focused on why social mdia is important and what you as a marketer should care aboug.

Why do brands and social media work? They tackle important concepts: reach, gather, deliver, position, gain.

Social media helps you extend reach and participate in a conversation that is connected with your brand, Jeff pointed out.

Some Stats

  • 53% of marketer’s polled said their expenses on social media marketing is going up in 2011. That’s good!
  • When asked if they were more likely to purchase from a brand after subscribing to one of its social channels, 37% of Twitter users polled said “yes.” That’s good, too!

Tips From Jeff

  • Establish your objectives! Sample Objective #1 – Build brand awareness. What is the primary driver? Content.
  • It’s so important, especially in social media, that content is extremely engaging. (Remember! The content DOES NOT need to be directly related to your product)
  • The most important thing is making the content shareable. Make it something people want to share with their social circle!
  • Social media – you want people to quickly engage, and then want to share it immediately.

Brands Doing More with Less

  • Non-profits – Consider creating a social badge for users’ profiles. Allow them to share it. (E.G.: “I’m a devoted [X] donor!”) People are happy and proud to share such a status on their social profiles.
  • Retailers – Offer exclusive deals specifically for your Facebook community. The value goes both ways – you are offering goods that are relevant to them, and it also means more fans for you.
  • B2B – How to garner engagement? Repurpose the content in your email campaigns – spruce it up to speak to a social audience, and share it across Facebook and other social channels. One B2B company retailing LED lights, Jeff  mentioned, worked outside their immediate circle to write content about families (specifically, babies touching lights – myths, truths, dangers, etc.) There was no selling whatsoever. They engaged mother-readers on a poignant, near & dear topic. Tip: When you repurpose content, don’t turn it into an advertisement. Make it not about selling at all. Instead, aim to transform it into a truly valuable resource.
  • Local Restaurants - Food trucks, for example, can leverage Twitter to share their current location with hungry customers-to-be. Brick & mortar local restaurants have used Twitter to connect with patrons, allowing them to make advanced reservations via tweets. Very clever J

And that about does ‘er! Oops. Wait. Until about 10 minutes before the end of the presentation, panelist Jeffrey Harmon was missing in action. When he suddenly reappeared, he delivered a presentation very similar to that morning’s Social Media Solutions on a Budget (click the link for a write-up of that preso). One awesome nugget he shared with us:

“A subscriber on YouTube is worth about fifty times as much as a Like.”

Nearly every panelist nodded in agreement.

So! That about does ‘er :) Stay tuned at aimClear blog for more coverage of Day 2 #SESSF, coming up later today.

  • Steev

    Hey, thanks for posting this and the other recaps of #SESSF !

    Much appreciated by those of us unable to attend. Great, thorough coverage that makes me almost feel like I was there. :-)

    – Steve

  • Charlotte Advertising

    Thank you for the recap Lauren!