Discovery Channel on Shark Week at Blogwell: “enthusiasts are doing our marketing”

2e38becbe35159151b804730c513a87bDiscovery Channel were the 3rd presenters in track1 of Blogwell on November 9 in Philadelphia with Amber Harris and Gayle Weiswasser delivering the presentation. Shark week is one of the longest running television events (23 years!). How do you  bring innovation and bring it to another level for Discovery? was the question that our presenters had asked themselves.

This year was to celebrate the “’national holiday” nature of Shark Week and it was rebranded “happy shark Week”. The company started a campaign against shark finning and partnered with the Georgia Aquarium with a live-stream from the aquarium.

Social Media Strategy

Social Media is all about communities added Gayle. So Discovery Communications didn’t have to invent anything but work with the influencers, the very enthusiastic people “who were doing [their] marketing for [them]”. Discovery Communications then went on a ton of monitoring in order to identify and engage with the right influencers.  The week took place on August 6th, but they tried to make the event live throughout the year thanks to Social Media.

Tactics

Digital PR managed to impact major online portals, and used street marketing with a building in DC with a Shark in it: People would stop and take pictures of the building and report on it. The presenters discovered some very active enthusiasts who would wear their tee-shirt and post tweets about that on Twitter. The focus was on Twitter. People were encouraged to create some videos on Youtube and post them by themselves, showing themselves in their “Shark Week” tee-shirts. They were offered to upload them to the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week Video Challenge YouTube channel.

There was no official Facebook page, but Discovery Channel was able to claim that page and set and official Shark Week page on Facebook. Video drove a lot of traffic online. The ‘adopt a shark’ campaign also enabled people to make donations.

The results were impressive

No wonder with such an impactful theme, but one has to admit that the numbers are really great: 14,000 online media and blog posts and #sharkweek was a worldwde Twitter trending topic the 1st day of Shark Week and there was over 91,000 Shark Week mentions between Aug 1-6 which resulted in 100 million potential impressions (Tweetreach.com). Somewhat facetiously, Amber mentioned “that the Radian 6 curve showing the traffic had the shape of  a shark-fin!”

What worked according to the presenters was the complementarity of digital and real-life PR, the partnerships and the Twitter engagement. However, they had mixed results with the photo contest with only 28 photo entries, showing how hard it is to get people to cooperate. Facebook was a bit disappointing but the real issue is in what Amber added: “You don’t know what goes wrong, you could do everything right and still it wouldn’t work”.

One of the things that made it for that project is that the company culture at Discovery is very much geared towards innovation according to both presenters and that there is never any push-back on anything. “Everyone has been very supportive” they said, and Amber adds that, more broadly speaking, “everybody in the company should have a vested interest in Social Media” and all of them should help make things work.

What matters is that people collaborate

Gayle concluded with what I consider pearls of wisdom: “Social Media is nothing” she said, “what matters is that people collaborate and keeping things as open as possible”.

what the cluetrain manifesto teaches us on social media … 11 years later

the manifesto's trademark armadillo picture

this is the unabridged version of an article published and written originally for Bnet.co.uk of which I am a regular contributor

OK, “markets are conversations” but keep on reading anyway …

How many times have I heard consultants open their presentations with the ultimate quotation from the 1999 cluetrain manifesto to justify the need to jump on the social media bandwagon: “Markets are conversations”; QED (or so they think).

I have been a long time admirer of the manifesto myself (if we except its pseudo French translation to make it sound international). 95 theses (not just one) such as the one quoted above, make up the manifesto. In this piece, I will take just five of them which I think are most important and should be remembered … at least as much as the obligatory conversation motto.

thesis #3: “conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice”

•    in social media, it means that you have to have real people and real life interaction– including behind-the-scenes — when discussions are triggered in tools like twitter for instance. Automated responses will not do.

thesis #7: “hyperlinks subvert hierarchy”

•    this doesn’t mean that your boss should be replaced. It means that websites are driven by linkage, not menus and that they aren’t designed like software. Unfortunately, I haven’t witnessed any progress in that direction. Too many discussions – not to say feuds – in businesses are triggered by the relative position of a menu within a home page. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the way the Web is working and the way that SEO is done.

thesis #24: “Bombastic boasts “we are positioned to be the pre-eminent provider of XYZ”—do not constitute a position

•    in social media, what matters is directness, truth, honesty, disclosure, real information from real people, not preformatted pitches in corporate speak.

thesis #26: Public Relations does not relate to the public. Companies are deeply afraid of their markets.

•    as per our previous post on Paul Argenti’s latest opus on the subject of Corporate Communications, it’s not so much that PR doesn’t do that at the moment which matters, but the sheer necessity for PR to reinvent itself and become human again. It’s not as obvious as it may seem when you are behind the company firewall so to speak.

thesis #66: We want access to your corporate information, to your plans and strategies, your best thinking, your genuine knowledge. We will not settle for the 4-color brochure, for web sites chock-a-block with eye candy but lacking any substance.

•    clients, ecosystems, visitors at large want information, and they want information that is useful to them, not company brochures which mean nothing. when I see most Corporate websites 16 years after the launch of the first ones I realise how little progress we have made in that direction. this is also because Corporate Websites have become the new bone of contention between entities, the area for which all business units are battling and that most of the time, people lose track of what could be of interest to visitors. At the end of the day, this is also what makes blogs easier to manage than corporate websites, as blogs are real opinions from real people.

links and further reading

(overcoming the) barriers to successful enterprise social media implementation

Futurity media‘s Stewart Baines has posted a few interesting questions on his blog. My answers are long-winded, but I think there are rightfully so. This is a difficult subject, and writing short yet sensible answers would be a challenge (anyway, I’m renowned for not writing short answers so I might as well admit it point blank); hence my posting them on this blog and not in the comment section of his post, for readability’s sake.

note on transparency: Futirity media is a company that I do business with

Response to Stewart Baines on how to overcome barriers to successful enterprise social media implementation

Dear Stewart,  thanks for posting this. In essence, it shows that you do understand the collaborative economy and your question — in itself — proves most of your other points wrong without having to go any further. Yet, I will add my 2 cents to all your points:

1. Can enterprises truly engage in social media without becoming “antisocial” organisations (argues Benjamin Ellis). Is this true? Is the profit motive inconsistent with sharing (which is intangible)?

This, in my mind, is a red herring. The motive for entrepreneurship — very seldom — is only profit. First and foremost, profit is a given (if you don’t do any, you are bound to go under), but it’s not the sole motivation for entrepreneurship; apperances can be deceptive. Examples abound: startup owners who relinquish a better pay or even don’t get any pay at all for several years (I have seen many not get any salary for up to 3 years). Cooperatives and mutuals (even though there has been a tendency to demutualise in Britain since 1996), not to mention socially motivated entrepreneurs like Godin in northern France in the late 19th century (many other examples exist, even today) or the Max Havelaar people and other fairtrade evangelists, as well as environmentally-driven entrepreneurs, and so on and so forth. I am not saying these people don’t want to make money. What I am arguing is the fact that their motivation isn’t money or profit or becoming grossly affluent, it’s more subtle than that. Secondly, a gift-based economy is the fuel for building communities, but not every company should go for community marketing. If what you do for a living is selling £10 oil-cloths on street markets, I am not sure your business should start a blog or a community website. In fact, I’m pretty certain it shouldn’t. Thirdly, giving away doesn’t mean that you have to give everything away. Fourthly, disclosure means openness. After all, we are marketeers and we have to be honest about it. Changing the way we do marketing (i.e. moving into neo-marketing) doesn’t mean we become philanthropists (or maybe, like the ragged-trousered philanthropists, our education means that we are part of that system anyway and cannot get away from it). Let’s be open about it. This is permission marketing, yet this is marketing. After all, people also need to buy things don’t they?

2. Should enterprise social media stay under the radar (with small projects) until you have an ROI and then roll-out extensively?

Social media projects are often started as grassroots projects and those are the best ones. ROI is another red herring. Do you mean that all projects that get implemented have an ROI?! Then what about corporate e-mail? Do you think this is a productivity tool? I don’t. Yet, this is a necessary evil, and yet few table the issue – barring a few exceptions – and mention we should get rid of corporate e-mail. Yet, I believe that social media has an ROI and I keep demonstrating it. But we are building the models as we go along. This is called innovation Stewart. When things get invented and you ask yourself the question “what could I do with this?” vs. “why would I need to do that?”

3. How do you identify social media champions in an organisation, how do you motivate them (without financial rewards)?

As far as I am concerned, mostly from the outside in. Social media champions are bound to be found in LinkedIn, Yammer, and their own blogs, and not the Corporate Intranet. As to rewards; I tried to set up an internal competition once and my idea was to thank and reward our bloggers for their contributions. It ended up in a feud, with some of the lesser contributors being disgruntled and our most frequent contributors criticising the prizes they got. Instead I decided not to replicate this experiment and give up the idea of rewarding bloggers other than thanking them for their contributions publicly and publicising their efforts across the company.

4. How do you get those with the most knowledge to share their knowledge when they are increasingly working to time sheets with minimum no. of billable hours? Surely those with “knowledge capital” are disinclined to convert this into “social capital”

What’s the point in becoming a leader of opinion? (real, not self-proclaimed) Champions who understand the things at stake don’t even ask the question for very long. Those who do ask the question over and over again never get to do anything. After a while though, it’s a good thing that social media work be recognised within the official remit of knowledge workers. After all, consultants are required to publish aren’t they? Why shouldn’t they publish on their company blog for the benefit of their clients as opposed to publishing on an obscure professional review read by peers who grant each other brownie points too easily. Clients and ecosystems are umpteen times more important than that!

5. If you can’t demonstrate ROI, will participating in social media ever be written into a job description?

I am not certain that there will be such a thing as Heads/VPs of Social Media within 5 years from now. It might make more sense to instill digital in all the other departments (press and public relations, advertising, etc). I understand that we have a long way to go however. I also suspect that social media trailblazers are merely showing the way forward, and once everyone has been evangelised and trained, they will move on to another job. After all, they are innovators, so they will focus on other things, one social media has moved into the mainstream. Please refer to that Buzz report article by Paul Dunay on the subject.

I believe things will evolve into 2 possible directions: firstly, either social media moves into the press and public relations, as is already the case with most US companies at the moment, which are part of SMBC. Secondly, social media could stay with the Web team, as is the case with us at Orange Business Services, as long as the team works cross organisationally in order to instill 360° spirit into all other marcoms initiatives (events, press relations, public relations, business intelligence, CRM, advertising etc). And I take it for certain that before 2015, the old-style corporate website will attract less than 20% of visits and that other sources (blogs, forums, community platforms, websites, web TV, web radio etc.) will gather over 80% of visits and 100% of conversations. To come back to your question, I don’t think there will be a VP of social media. But I may be wrong.

6. What happens to social networks in the enterprise, when you remove the champions (e.g. they move jobs) – do the networks collapse? (I’ve seen some evidence to suggest this does happen with immature networks.)

My whole job is to ascertain that this Social Media initiative does not end up being that of a few prominent players, let alone mine. It has to be part of a company process or otherwise it’ll disappear.

7. How do you measure the value of enterprise social media in terms of marketing/PR terms, particulalry in B2B space? My point is that traditional B2B marketing was all about segmentation based on job title, location etc. Social media is so scattergun, and your audience typically doesn’t fit the segmented target audience (i.e you can hire an agency like Futurity to be your social media mouthpiece but what are you getting back for that, in terms of increased sales, or raised profile in your target audience.

This will be the primary focus of people like me in 2010. Tools exist, but dashboards will need to be built: Klout.com will give you an idea about how influential you are on twitter, blogs and company websites generate comments and discussions, Webleads tracker will let you identify your leadership and your most valuable content sections (even in real time), and even let you do lead generation (to an extent) by letting you know who is interested in what. Lead generation is something I do a lot of. But, as I use social media to attract people and generate interest, social media is only the spark in that process. Actual lead generation actually happens elsewhere, through resources like knowledge centres and newsletters. What social media does is turn yourself into an affiliate without having to spend £150 on each e-mail captured on a 3rd party website, but you won’t capture them on the social media platforms, you can’t do that. As a conclusion, there is a link between lead generation and social media, but I wouldn’t use social media as the primary source for lead generation. This is a subtle difference, but an important one at that because social media was not invented for companies to do business. Permission marketing is of the essence, even more so than on a traditional web platforms. Most marketeers are still struggling with that.

As a conclusion I would also say that I will be keynoting at Likeminds next week. We’ll have another chance to debate that subject in Exeter.

The Blog Council | Here are a few trustworthy corporate blogs

Blog Council members working hard under Andy Sernovitz's supervision

Corporate blogging isn’t easy… And Forrester analyst Josh Bernoff published an interesting report about why people don’t trust most company blogs. In fact, looking closer at Josh’s comments, it’s not corportae blogs but corporate speak that clients don’t trust.

But this is no news to us. We’ve been going on about that for donkeys’ years. So now is the time that corporations react differently and start real conversations with their ecosystems (in b2b, it’s not just about clients, an average 21 persons are taking part in any one b2b decision in large 1000+ employee companies according to a Marketing Sherpa study).

So, what are the corporate blogs which can be trusted? Here’s the Blog Council’s take on the phenomenon, and guess what?! The Orange Business Live blog is one of them. Cheers to our writers!

The Blog Council | Here are a few trustworthy corporate blogs

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Here are some other examples of trustworthy blogs, too (and yes, they are all Blog Council members):

How are companies marketing online?

The evolution under way in digital marketing reflects fundamental shifts in consumer behaviour. Leveraging the digital universe now requires marketers to look beyond traditional tactics. As the Internet gains influence and online techniques take on a larger role in strategies, digital marketing may well be the next frontier for consumer engagement and marketing effectiveness.

Although there are many online tactics available to supercharge your digital marketing plan, not all of them deliver the same effectiveness or even are appropriate. It is obviously highly depending on the target audience you are trying to reach and develop relationship with, the products and services you are promoting as well as the marketing objectives you are trying to achieve.

A McKinsey Global Survey of marketing executives from around the world entitled “How companies are marketing online” offers some solid insights into the future of digital marketing together with an excellent synopsis of Web 2.0 and online tools effectiveness as well as how they are increasingly being used to develop customer engagement …