By Melissa Chipman
“Enhancing Your Communications in an Increasingly Social, Mobile and Online World” was the theme of the Fourth Annual Emerging Media Summit yesterday.
The message of the day? Social media alone cannot create community.
The content– either what is being said directly in social media or the content to which that social media is driving people – must engage people, create conversations, and reinforce or build relationships.
Shannon Paul, vice president of Social Media for Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank, opened the event with a presentation titled “Building Community in a Conservative Environment.”
In the most memorable of Paul’s case studies, she cited the example of a Chrysler ad that aired during the 2011 Super Bowl, “Imported from Detroit,” starring rapper Eminem. The commercial was well-received critically and consistently made Top-10 Super Bowl ad lists for the year. The ad even caused an enormous spike in the number of people using search engines to look up the actual car – a Chrysler 200 – not just the rapper and the song.
A successful campaign? On the surface, yes. The ad was intriguing enough to draw viewers to their computers to search– Chrysler knew this and was prepared to capitalize on it. They bought pay-for-click ads that would come up in searches in the hours during and immediately following the game.
“The ROI [return on investment] on social media depends on enablement,” Paul says. “You need to ask yourself: where are you sending people?”
Where were those paid ads sending people?
To the YouTube version of the commercial. Not to Chryslers’ website where viewers could have learned more about the vehicle. Not to Chryslers’ Facebook page where Chrysler would have had a shot at making a viewer a fan and beginning a relationship with them.
The Chrysler campaign ended at a full stop – there’s little benefit to the car company in building YouTube views. Paul stresses the “full-circle” strategy for engagement. Ideally those searches should have led viewers to a place where Chrysler could have captured them, cultivated them, and encouraged them to share the media with friends.
That’s how you build virtual communities.
Alison Groves, Product Coordinator at Raven, the makers of Internet marketing tools, attempted to unpack the relationship between SEO, Social and PR in her presentation “Storytelling on the Web.”
“Tell your story,” said Groves. “Tell it well. People will share. Relationships will be built. Your product will be found.”
“Tell your story. Tell it well,” might very well have been a subtitle of the presentation by Cody Vest of Vest Advertising called “Return on Awesome.”
His presentation likewise employed a case study involving a rapper; this time it was the Tupac Shakur hologram that rapped alongside (the flesh and blood rapper) Snoop Dog at the 2012 Coachella Music Festival. Within a week of the performance, Shakur’s Greatest Hits album, released in 1998, once again cracked the Billboard Top 200. Downloads of his most popular songs spiked to 14,000+ over a matter of a few days.
“Word of mouth moves people,” says Vest. People saw the Coachella performance, thought it was awesome, and shared it with friends. “Awesome,” says Vest, “will get your better ROI than actually focusing on ROI.”
Another example that Vest cites of a company that is enjoying a “return on awesome” is Marvel Comics [mistakenly referenced as DC Comics in the speech]. Their augmented reality app, which debuted at South by Southwest this year, allows comic readers to point their mobile device at images in the comics in order to unlock DVD-extras-style features. The AR app is awesome and, as Vest says, “People talk about awesome.”
“Focus on word of mouth,” says Vest. “Ask yourself, ‘How can I change people’s lives?”
Word of mouth helps to create community, as does collaborative culture. Jonathan Erwin, CEO of Red e App, a startup that has created a mobile communication platform that allows organizations to create private mobile networks to instantly share information, asked the question, “How do we compress time and distance” in order to foster collaboration and community?
Erwin cited two restaurant chains that use instant networks in lieu of traditional “three-ring-binder” style communications. The Red Robin chain uses Yammer to instantly share and teach new recipes to managers. Texas Roadhouse has over 30,000 and communicates on paper with the bulk of these employees only via their paychecks. Otherwise, they use the RedEApp to communicate with their “Roadies” exclusively.
“Social media is not a tool,” says Erwin, “it’s a behavior.”
The event, presented by the Louisville Digital Association and the International Association of Business Communicators (Kentucky Chapter), featured a dozen speakers over the course of an eight-hour conference at the Crowne Plaza near Louisville International Airport.
Other speakers during the summit included Dennis Yu, a Facebook guru, who had never agreed to sponsor an event before this one; Patti Hobbs, Communications Director for UPS Airlines who spoke on crisis communications; and Ben Loetz of Verizon Wireless, who shared the VGO, a robotic telemedicine video consulting device and other game-changing hardware.
The Summit concluded with breakout workshops led by Groves, Social Media Explorer CEO Jason Falls, Nick Huhn of Bandy Carroll Hellige and Jason Loehr from Brown-Forman that covered managing the social media streams and workflow, becoming a LinkedIn ninja, using Google Analytics and understanding Facebook’s new advertising options.
About Melissa Chipman: Melissa Chipman is Louisville-based journalist and editor who recently made a career change after 13 years of teaching at elite private schools in Louisville and New Orleans. Chipman has a BA in English from Columbia College of Columbia University in New York City and an MA in English from the University of New Orleans. She recently was part of the winning team at Startup Weekend Louisville.