Purpose Community Building: It Gets Better Project

waldenu_scir2011_globaltech1_web

After spending the last few months learning and reading about how business use the internet as a device to help them gain a bigger customer base, to promote themselves and to basically earn more money, it has made me feel a little disheartened at how the great and powerful internet is being taken over by business for purely monetary gains. So I have decided to concentrate this blog post on looking at how some people are using the internet, for what I see as its greatest feature, to raise awareness, bring people together in support for the same cause and initiating social change. Many charity organisations use the internet and social media to raise awareness for their causes, Oxfam has its own website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube channel and even an online shop to enable them to spread their message as far and wide as possible to help rally people to fight world poverty. This is one of the amazing things that the internet allows us to do. The speed and virality that the internet offers to its users allows for messages to be shared to a huge number of people in a very short time, this is an excellent opportunity for people that aim to raise awareness for a cause as they can assemble a huge following in a relatively short amount of time. This is caused purpose community building.

An online community of purpose was defined by Durlacher in 1999, they were defining it in a business context but this definition can also be applied to other organisational types, it is a community of “people who are going through the same process or trying to achieve a particular objective” (Chaffey.D, Ellis-Chadwick. F 2012). When examining online communities fostering engagement in the community can be a downfall as “a silent community isn’t a community” (ibid).

it-gets-better1

An example of online purpose community building, that highlights the great impact that digital platforms has had on being able to communicate a message and raise awareness on a subject matter, is the It Gets Better Project. This grass roots internet based project is aimed at preventing suicide in LBGT teenagers by having adults convey messages through online videos about how they too suffered when they were younger but that their lives have improved. The project first started when Dan Savage posted video on YouTube with his boyfriend Terry talking about how the hard times they suffered as teens but they now lead fulfilling lives together as parents in response to a spate of teen suicides as a result of them being bullied for being homosexual. After Dan Savage uploaded this first video hundreds of other videos posted telling their stories of how ‘it gets better’. Through the use of YouTube and the ease of which videos can be shared and sent to others these videos attracted huge attention to the problem of homophobic bullying. The project gained massive support from celebrities, like Neil Patrick-Harris, Tom Hanks, even Kermit the Frog uploaded videos in the hope to reassure teenagers or anyone who was suffering that it does get better. It wasn’t just celebrities that used their pull power to attract public attention to the cause companies like Google and Facebook uploaded videos with their employees sharing their stories, and arguably the most powerful man in the world Barrack Obama posted a video in support of the campaign. In the first two weeks of the project its YouTube channel reached its limit of 650 videos, there are now more than 50,000 user-created videos that have been viewed over 50 million times.

The It Gets Better Project shows ” the arrival of the internet allowed communities to connect, regardless of geography. Case study after case study shows the growing power of virtual communities, sometimes only in existence for a short time, to create social change” (Holloman, 2012). Since its creation the It Gets Project has formed a foundation to communicate with LGBT youth around the world that it gets better, they still manage a YouTube channel and host videos on their website- http://www.itgetsbetter.org/ where users are still able to upload their own It Gets Better videos. Along with their digital channels the It Gets Better Project has been able to emerge from their base in the internet with speaking engagements held by Dan Savage and an hour long MTV special. Also in 2012 the It Gets Better Project received the prestigious Governors award from The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, in the announcement made by Bruce Rosenblum the chairman of the Academy he said that “The It Gets Better Project is a great example of strategically, creatively and powerfully utilizing the media to educate and inspire. This is television moving well beyond the traditional physical set in the viewer’s living room to the intimacy of the monitor, laptop, tablet or mobile device and delivering the ideal mix of inspiration and creativity to affect awareness and, ultimately, change.”

Sources:

Holloman, Christopher (2012) The Social Media MBA. Chichester: Wiley.

Chaffey, Dave & Ellis-Chadwick, F (2012) Digital Marketing Strategy Implementation and Practice. Fifth Ed. Essex, Pearson Education Limited.

Grzanka, Patrick.R & Mann, E.S (2014) Queer youth suicide and the psychopolitics of ”It Gets Better”. Sexualities [online] 17, 2014. Avaliable at http://www.sex.sagepub.com/content/17/4/369 [accessed 27th November 2014]

Emmys (2012) It Gets Better” to Get Governors Award [online] available at http://www.emmys.com/news/awards-news/it-gets-better-get-governors-award [accessed 27th November 2014]

www.ItGetsBetter.org [accessed 27th November 2014]

Christmas Adverts: evoking emotions though both TV & social media

I’m sure by now most people have seen this years tear jerking advertisements offered by the supermarkets and big stores. These big television advertisements try to pull at the audiences heart strings and make them forget about the brand behind the ad and concentrate on the festive or emotional message that is trying to be portrayed. This is until the last scene when the name of the brand is shown is huge letters on screen so that viewers associate the emotional message when they think of the brand. Although these adverts my be relatively new in our yearly Christmas traditions this type of marketing has been used for decades by marketers as a from of classical conditioning. In much the same vain as Pavlov’s dogs viewers are given the stimuli, in this case emotionally evocative, and then the response created by the stimuli is transferred to the brand through positive reinforcement this this brand will be able to supply the viewer with this emotion when they visit their store.

These advertisement have become a yearly event with adverts now having premiers between programmes with high ratings. What is more interesting for me from a digital marketing point of view is that these advertisements are using social media as a device to spread their Christmas message. Taking the John Lewis Christmas advert as an example, through their advert they have created the character of Monty the penguin who now has his own social media profiles. Rather than this advert becoming just a water cooler moment and only being viewed by an audience who is watching the programme that the advert is slotted in between, their utilisation of social media in the campaign has allowed viewers to spread and share the advert themselves over heir own social media profiles.

 

Through the creation of these social media profiles under the Monty character John Lewis is providing their online advocates with the ability to spread even further their message with user generated content to a wider audience creating a higher conversion rate for their brand on social media. Social media and lies at the heart of the this marketing campaign, the advert was first released on the John Lewis Youtube channel which allowed John Lewis’ social media advocates and influencers to share the advert before it was even shown on TV. This online release also tied in with a Twitter campaign which promised followers’ of the Monty Twitter profile that Monty would send a tweet to all their friends as the John Lewis-sponsored Oxford Street Christmas lights are turned on in London. Through the John Lewis website users are able to share their thoughts on Monty’s Christmas on Facebook, Twitter or Google+. The ease at which john Lewis has enabled their content to be shared due to social media platforms resulted in huge recognition for the character of Monty the penguin with the hashtag #Montythepenguin trending on Twitter within hours of the advert first being released. Using this approach John Lewis has been able to provide engaging content that goes beyond their direct product offering, and have been able to generate a zero moment of truth for their customers as they research and find out more about only and in turn John Lewis and receiving the initial stimuli.

 

But guys why just concentrate on the excellent use of social media integration in to a Christmas marketing strategy by brands like John Lewis when we can watch Peter Andre acting like a fool and sending up his celebrity stauts in Iceland’s Christmas advert. Its Christmas guys share the festive spirit and love for all adverts.

 

Sources:

www.johnlewis.com

Rowles, Daniel (2014) “Digital Branding: A Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Strategy, Tactics and Measurement”. London: Kogan Page Limited.

The Guardian (2014) “John Lewis unveils Christmas ad starring Monty the penguin” [online] available at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/nov/06/john-lewis-unveils-christmas-ad-starring-monty-the-penguin [accessed 24th November 2014]

 

MEME: Spreading Like Wild Fire

evil cat

After looking through a post published by Buzzfeed.com on 21 photos that are guaranteed to make you laugh (don’t worry I will add the link for you to cry laughing at them like I did) it got me wondering about memes, that was after I had stopped laughing hysterically. While I was on my own. In a public place….So after I had regained my composure I realised that all of the photos I had been looking at were memes, and then I realised that although I can recognise what a meme is I would not be able to accurately define to someone what a meme is. So that is the purpose of this blog post, to find out what a meme actually is and why they are all over the internet, making people laugh at inappropriate times and in inappropriate places.

 

According to Oxforddictionaries.com a meme is;

“An idea, behaviour, or style that spreads from person to person with in a culture” and the word meme derives from the Greek mimema meaning “that which is imitated”.

This definition describes the virality of memes and why the internet is full of funny cat photos. It is in the nature of the meme to be disseminated as widely as possible. In an article I read recently “Emotion and Virality: what makes online content go viral?” (Jonah Berger & Katherine L. Milkman, 2012) in the Journal of Marketing Research, it found that the most commonly shared content is most likely to be humorous and funny. This could account for why the most shared memes are comedic and for entertainment, also the almost effortless way that people are able to share memes accounts for why some can become so popular and evolve into internet fads. The speed that is offered by the internet for people to able to connect and share information through email, social media sites and forums is the perfect platform for memes to exist so they can be spread easily. As memes can come in many different forms; image, video, audio, or hashtag many internet sites have developed around hosting sharing spaces for memes such as tumblr that is a micro blogging site designed for multimedia sharing. Along with websites apps have also been created based around the sharing of photos and short videos as memes, Vine a mobile app allows users to make short videos which they can then share with other people over the Vine platform.

 

There are may examples of memes that have created a huge amount of buzz around them and have been shared to millions of people worldwide. Many of these memes have allowed for viewers to be able to create their own version of the meme to be shared. The Harlem shake is an example of such meme that generated enormous recognition with huge participation, it was a meme in video form in which a group of people would perform a dance to the song “Harlem Shake”. In a matter of weeks YouTube had thousands of videos of people doing the Harlem Shake, it was talked about on TV and written about in magazines and newspapers becoming a cultural phenomenon. This was possible due to the technology available to make the videos which most people had on their phones and the accessibility that they had to share their videos on websites and social medias for them to be then shared by their followers creating a continual loop of sharing and producing of videos.

So to sum up I have discovered that a meme is a  way of communicating by spreading an idea or message as far and wide as possible and in many different forms. The internet has took this to mean sharing lots of funny cat photos and videos showing what really matters to people in the 21st century.

 

Oh and here are the funny photos: http://www.buzzfeed.com/erinchack/photos-guaranteed-to-make-you-snicker

Sources:

American Marketing Association (2012)  “Emotion and Virality: what makes online content go viral?” [online] available at http://journals.ama.org/doi/abs/10.1509/jmr.10.0353 [accessed 21st November 2014]

Buzzfeed.com

OxfordDictionaries “Meme” [online] avaliable at http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/meme [accessed 21st November 2014]

 

MY Social Media Competition

I have decided to write about my own project as part of my work as a social media assistant for Village Hotel Liverpool, this is still ongoing which is why I am not able to display any links to the campaign. In order to maximise the awareness of a new menu being released in the restaurant of the hotel I was tasked with creating a campaign to promote the new menu over our social media channels of Facebook and Twitter. While thinking of an idea of how to promote the menu I came upon the idea of using a food selfie aspect to the campaign as while in the restaurant I noticed that a large number of customers would take a photo of their food as it got to their table. It occurred to me that most of these photos would probably go on to some form of social media but would never be associated with the company. In order to use this now common social norm of taking a food selfie before you have your meal I decided that we should run a competition on our social media sites were customers would take a photo of their food off the new menu and then post it on to either Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag Vnewfood, utilising the company’s common usage of the letter “V” in other marketing. The main aims of the campaign will be to promote the menu by using user generated content as the driving force and to increase the number of customers to the restaurant and followers on our social media sites.

Once the menu goes live customers will be able to post their food selfies for a chance to win the competition they will also be informed that the competition will be judged on which ever photo gains the most number of likes/favourites and shares/retweets. The competition will run for 2-3 weeks during which time I hope to gather data on our customers and the restaurant. I will use Twitter and Facebook analytics and other anyalytics like the ones available on Hootsuite as i use it daily to schedule posts. I am going to measure the number of new followers, mentions and engagement on our sites. This will tell me which site is used more commonly by our customers and give me an insight as to how I can improve our other site to match their needs. I will also get an insight in to who our most influential customers are from the photos that gain the most engagement so I can then target them more effectively in future marketing. The competition will also give a lot of information about which dishes are most popular with our customers and will also tell us if it has had an increase in the number of customers that dine at the restaurant by comparing the weekly financial numbers. Finally as the prize for the competition will be a free meal in the restaurant this will promote repeat custom from the winner who will be our most influential social media interacter.

Hootsuite Solving Social Media Management Problems

hootsuite

Social media management tools are becoming a vital necessity for digital marketers and Hootsuite is now one of the major social media management tools in the world with over 10 million users. It was first developed in 2008 by Ryan Holmes a computer programmer who came up with the idea after being unable to find any tool that had all of the requirements he needed. Hootsuite offers it users the ability the integrate all of their social media profiles into a single browser based dashboard from which they can control and monitor their profiles. Through the dashboard users are able to schedule posts that are made on their platforms, which offers a great benefit as you can pre-plan posts on to your social media sites saving time. If you have visitors or followers to your social media sites that are from different countries and time zones you can effectively target these users even if your digital marketer is asleep, by using scheduled posts. Having all of your social media sites integrated in to a single dashboard also means that your can monitor what is being said about your brand more effectively, and therefore put better marketing strategies into place as a result of this and utilise the analytics that Hootsuite offers on its site.

Hootsuite is targeted more towards a business user as they are likely to see more benefits from its time saving ability and that a dashboard can be used by multiple people. The site enables scheduled messages to be approved or rejected by users and for assignments to be set so that all of the users know what is needed to be done on the social media sites. This capability prevents organisations becoming dependent on a single person who has access to their social media profiles which could be a negative if that person left the company and decided to post damaging comments about the company on their own profiles.

Its usefulness to businesses can be seen from some of its users, companies like Facebook, Virgin and the Obama Administration have seen the benefits that Hootsuite gives to businesses by allowing for easier management of their social media profiles. Hootsuite’s success is only set to grow even further as after capturing the attention and business of some of the world’s leading brands and companies, smaller businesses and enterprises are adopting the tool into their practices. This has been helped by Hootsuite University which offers online courses and lectures to help users understand the value of social media and how it can help businesses, prompting more people to embrace Hootsuite as part of their everyday online business.

As the necessity for a greater online presence increases and the demand for more content across multiple platforms is needed to effectively promote and market businesses and products, social media management tools become more vital for businesses. The ability to access and control all of your social media platforms from a single point is an amazing benefit to digital marketers. They save vital hours of time in a world where every minute counts if you want your brand to remain current and relevant, Hootsuite name even refers to its time saving capabilities as it is derived from the French term “tout de suite” which means “right now”. Social media management tools enable users to foster positive brand image over their social media platforms allowing them to maintain a uniformity to their profiles and for action to be taken immediately when needed to. They also help to analyse what is being said about your brand so that digital marketers can react to this to improve the brand health, improve customer relationship and increase marketing optimisation.

 

Sources:

www.Hootsuite.com

MashableUK “5 Tips for Startup Success From a Co-Founder of Hootsuite” [online] available at http://mashable.com/2010/10/21/startup-tips-hootsuite/ [accessed 18th November 2014]

TechVibes (2009) “BrightKit Follower Sources New HootSuite Name” [online] available at http://www.techvibes.com/blog/brightkit-follower-sources-new-hootsuite-name [accessed 18th November 2014]

 

Crowdfunding Helping to Finacnce and Market Films

film_courage_crowdfunding_tennyson_stead copy(1)

 

Being a film studies graduate obviously I have a keen interest in films and the film industry so it only seemed to make sense that my first blog post should combine my interests of both film and digital marketing. In recent years crowdfunding has emerged as a way for small grassroots filmmakers to be able to finance their films and bring them to public attention. Instead of having to find financers to fund their projects filmmakers can now turn to the public for investment which has proven to be successful for a number of cases that I will go on to talk about. By using crowdfunding filmmakers are not only receiving funding they are also gaining a potential market for their film from the people who pledge money to the project and from the people who see the funding campaign, utilising the crowdfunding platform to market their film before it has even been made.

So what exactly is crowdfunding? In the days before the internet it would have been known as angel investing, when a person or organisation invested in a new business or project to give them the funding they needed and would hopefully see a return on their investment. Inevitably like most things in the digital era we now live in this angel investing was translated over to the internet with the first examples occurring in 2006. Since then many sites that act as an intermediary between the investor and the creator have opened up, such as Crowdfunder.co.uk and Kickstarter.com. Sites like these do not operate in the traditional manner of equity investment instead many projects offer gifts in return for pledging money rather than a stake in the business or project, known as reward-based crowdfunding. According to Forbes.com the crowdfunding economy grew to $5.1 billion in 2013, highlighting the huge growth and potential crowdfunding offers. Some of the highest grossing projects that have been funded through crowdfunding sites are the Pebble Watch which gained over $10 million from crowdfunding. Films are also among some of the highest earning crowdfunding projects; The Veronica Mars film raised $5.7 million, while Zach Braff Raised $3.1 million for his film Wish I Was Here.

Crowdfunding can be seen as an enticing opportunity for people to fund their projects but it offers more than just funding. There are marketing opportunities embedded in with the crowdfunding platform. Taking the Veronica Mars film as an example when they first started their crowdfunding project they were able to use the existing fan base to not only fund the film but market it for them as well. By donating to the project they could then use the online communities they were a part of to spread the information about the support they had given to the project, increasing the number of people who became aware of the project and in turn increasing the number of donations pledged to the project. This is a great advantage for filmmakers as it gives them the opportunity to create an audience for their film before it has even been released. It is even more advantageous because this marketing is free as it is all done through WOM or eWOM and therefore is completely free.

RichHill-PosterThumbnail

The crowdfunding platform has benefited many films and filmmakers as it has enabled them to make and release films that may not have been given a chance by any studios. But through crowding filmmakers have been able to make their projects and show that there is an audience that is willing to go and see them, shown through the money they raise from donors. This type of funding is helping to reshape the way that films are made as it takes away the control from producers and studios and gives it back to the filmmakers enabling them to be their own independent producers, supporting the independent film industry. Films like the documentary Rich Hill about three teenage boys living below the poverty line in rural Midwest America, have garnered acclaim from film critics, showing that the films that are produced as a result of crowdfunding can have a big impact on the film industry at large and are not confined to independent film circles. Rich Hill even went on to receive an Academy nomination for best documentary and won the U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary Award at the Sundance Film Festival.

Crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter now host film festivals around the world showcasing the body of work that has been produced from Kickstarter campaigns further helping to attract audiences to these films and highlighting the huge impact that crowdfunding is having on the film industry.

 

Sources:

www.Crowdfunder.co.uk

Forbes (2014) “Crowdfunding’s Untapped Potential In Emerging Markets”  [online] available at http://www.forbes.com/sites/hsbc/2014/08/05/crowdfundings-untapped-potential-in-emerging-markets/ [accessed 25th October 2014]

www.Kickstarter.com

www.imbd.com

www.richhillfilm.com

Wharton (2010) “Can Yoy Spare a Quarter? Crowdfunding Sites Turn Fans into Patrons of the Arts” [online] available at http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/can-you-spare-a-quarter-crowdfunding-sites-turn-fans-into-patrons-of-the-arts/ [accessed 25th October 2014]