The world of social media can seem bewildering.
From social networks such as Facebook and video sharing sites such as YouTube, right the way through to recommendation sites such as Digg and even the humble ‘rate this’ function found on any online shop, many marketers don’t know where to begin.
About 18 months ago, a pair of senior analysts at Forrester Research stepped in to the rescue. Their definitive Groundswell sets out how marketers can exploit these new opportunities. It includes, perhaps most importantly, a model for understanding your target audience and how to engage them in social technologies, by understanding their ‘Social Technographics Profile’.
Groundswell is especially useful because it enables you to keep apace with the ever-changing nature of these media: first, by setting out how to respond to these changes in the book, and second, by publishing updates and new findings on the blog.
Online video: why waste money on TV?
There are various case studies in the book, but I would like to focus on one that superbly illustrates how a little innovative thinking can give a huge return.
Blendtec is a manufacturer of expensive kitchen blenders. With dipping sales, they needed to find a way to stand out. One afternoon, their marketing director saw a pile of sawdust in the testing area – the result of a test to show that the blender was so strong it could blend a piece of timber – and realised people would like to see that for themselves.
He filmed his CEO blending various objects and posted the clips on YouTube. Viewers’ imagination was captured and, aided by a post on Digg, traffic soared. They started a blog, engaging with customers and fans, and people started to suggest increasingly bizarre items to blend. The clips have been viewed over one hundred million times – by people who chose to see them – and sales have spiralled.
The following clip is my favourite. The iPhone – will it blend?!
How charities can do the same
The following clips are both TV ads for charities. The first is the controversial but very successful ad for Barnardo’s and the second is the potentially more controversial ad for Women’s Aid.
Ofcom have banned the latter from running on TV.
Both portray the same truth: sickening abuse occurs behind closed doors. Both show the physical violence in a graphical way. One is allowed on telly. The other isn’t.
It is probably not possible here to debate the intricacies of the societal sensitivities that drive this. I wonder if we are subconsciously too ashamed to acknowledge that some adults treat some others in this way, simply because their strength is greater – whilst abuse of children is less surprising and therefore considered easier to watch.
In any event, the discomfort that the Barnardo’s ad generated is reflected in the number of complaints to the ASA.
However, both ads work incredibly well because although they show desperate images, they give the viewer an obvious way to respond – get involved, support the charity.
As Mark outlines in this post, the Barnardo's ad has been very successful. The ad has increased awareness of what Barnardo's actually does by 33% and, more importantly, 46% of people who have seen it say they are now more likely to support the charity.
Both ads have been viewed by many people on YouTube. The opportunity for Women’s Aid is to drive more traffic to the ads online, playing on the controversy, with clever use of channels such as Digg and Facebook – advertising on the latter being a relatively cheap way of driving additional traffic.
Big budget. Low budget.
You may have spotted a minor inconsistency in what I have written: both these ads were created by ad agencies, and required sizeable budgets.
However, the power of channels such as YouTube is that they can cost next to nothing. Fundraisers, and at the risk of being controversial I would say none more than community fundraisers, are often incredibly imaginative.
Look at what Blendtec has achieved. Although it uses humour, and doesn't deal with the hard-hitting realities that a charity ad might, charities can nevertheless learn some valuable lessons. What is your equivalent to Will It Blend?