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Red Bull just gave everyone a Master Class in social branding – here’s how and why:

October 14, 2012 Comments

Global viewership, life and death stakes, an historic moment – Red Bull masterfully combined all these ingredients to create a social and shared brand experience on a scale never seen before. While the live and post leap coverage focused on Felix the man and , no doubt, daredevil, let’s deconstruct the top ten features of this masterstroke in social branding.

1. ANTICIPATION: Like veteran launch expert, Apple, Red Bull built anticipation for the leap for the last year while Felix spent the last 5 years preparing for jump (above is a video prepared by Red Bull in January this rear.

2. HUMANITY: What Red Bull did so well was to communicate directly and coordinate through PR sources the human story of Felix which allowed people to emotionally connect with the brand.

3. IMAGINATION: Full credit goes to Red Bull to go one better than their already startling array of live, daredevil events, literally reaching the stratosphere on this one. It’s this flight of imagination of a brand that matched the raw ingenuity and ambition of Felix.

4. ALIGNMENT: There is perfect alignment between Red Bull’s tagline, ‘Gives you wings’ and yesterdays record-breaking leap unlike some brands that revert to unrelated but sensational stunts to attract attention to their brand.

5. SENSATIONALISM: There was quite literally an unparrallelled degree of breathtaking sensationalism to the world’s furthest free fall which can’t help but attract ten of millions of dollars of free PR and media exposure that will enhance the brand for years even within the history books.

6. BALANCE: A common mistake of brands hosting dramatic lives events is to focus exclusively on the technology or on the participants, but here Red Bull did a masterful job of fueling the mind with science and the heart with trepidation.

7. URGENCY: Stakes get no higher than life or death stakes and discussion of his suit failing, his visor breaking or his blood boiling on re-entry brought an almost horror movie compulsion to watch the event live.

8. PERSONALITY: While the Red Bull logo was consistently visible from every camera angle of every aspect of the leap, it was the brand’s personality (by extension from Felix) that was given the greatest boost in visibility.

9. COMMITMENT: Sundays leaps and postponed attempts we’re the result of years of planning and research that could have either failed, ended in tragedy or gone largely unnoticed but this did no deter Red Bull.

10. SOCIAL: From Over The Air television, to network news, to cable to livetsreaming on the web through PC’s or smart phones, and across all social media channels, the final attempt was a shared experience that had views, news anchors and mission control staff on the edges of their seats.

For a second-by-second recap of the leap click here including tweets from Felix inside the capsule. For a great understanding of the technology involved, click here. And consider this as a window into the future – more than 8 million people watched a livestream of the record-breaking jump. And just because it is so breathtaking, here’s that leap again (in social branding) that Red Bull took!

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Consumers use social media to tell brands: “We want to help” (Part 2)

October 10, 2012 Comments

Part 2 of a guest post by Steven Van Belleghem, author of The Conversation Company & The Conversation Manager. Part 1 is here.

How to exploit all the possibilities of social media

Here are the conclusions of our study of social media around the world. Our first conclusion is that consumers have integrated social media in their everyday routine. Because of this, the social media landscape looks stable and there’s only room for newcomers with a unique angle such as Instagram and Pinterest. Consumers still like to connect with brands but just a few brands are actively monitored. Apart from receiving content, consumers also want to be involved in the management of these companies.

This means that marketers and social media managers should plot their strategy along two axes:

  • Reach: in social media, both a broad and a limited reach can be useful. It is possible to create value for your customers and the company simply by helping a single individual. Solving the problem of an unsatisfied customer is a good example of a small reach that offers great value. Then there’s also the possibility of reaching a wide audience. A fun campaign has the potential of reaching millions of consumers. Good content always appeals to a large group of people.
  • Structural collaboration: both one-off contacts and structural relationships are possible on social media. A fun campaign may result in a positive one-off interaction, which in itself is valuable for both parties. This single contact may even develop into a genuine conversation. Also, social media provide a platform for structural collaboration with a group of people (staff, customers, suppliers, shareholders…).

The important thing is that both dimensions should create value for consumer and company alike. A modern company makes the most of social media by cultivating all four aspects: a wide or limited reach and loose or structural relationships. The long-term goal is inspiring customer commitment. Combining a wide reach with structural collaboration is an excellent goal.

If you achieve that goal, your company will benefit from four key quadrants. At the heart of the concept is the conversation philosophy (listening and engaging in dialogue) that forms the basis for the strategy. Here are the four key benefits of such an approach.

  • Customer experience: The favourite topic of conversation among consumers is the products and services companies have to offer. Solving the problems of individual people is by definition an action with a limited scope but it has a positive impact on that person’s conversation potential.
  • Conversation: This is the topic of my previous book, “The Conversation Manager”. Instead of communication the goal is to have a conversation. It’s all about listening, asking questions, facilitating conversations and taking an active part in them. Managing that conversation is the basic principle in this scheme.
  • Content: Give people something to talk about but do so in an authentic and positive manner that reflects the culture of your organisation. Do this well and you will reach a wide audience.
  • Collaboration: Involve the public in everything your company does. Invite them into your boardroom, make them an active part of your project teams and use their vision when making decisions. You can call upon a big group of people on a large open forum or you can connect with a small group of consumers in a closed community. Both these methods of involving the customer in corporate policy are meaningful and offer added value.

Thanks so much to Steven for the great insights and posts. For the full InSites Consulting report click here, and here are Steven’s website and slideshare links.


Consumers use social media to tell brands: “We want to help” (Part 1)

October 8, 2012 Comments

Part 1 of a guest post by Steven Van Belleghem, author of The Conversation Company & The Conversation Manager.

A few days ago, InSites Consulting, SSI and No Problem! launched their “Social Media around the World 2012” study. One of the main conclusions of this year’s edition is the consumer’s eagerness to help companies on a structural level. Consumers would like nothing more than to help businesses improve the quality of their existing products and services. They see it as a win-win situation. This article highlights the most striking conclusions from this large-scale study.

Social media landscape is stabilising

The big social network sites are getting bigger and the small ones are getting smaller. This is one of the conclusions of our report. The big four all continue to expand: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Clearly consumers are no longer waiting for the “next big thing”. The average consumer maintains a presence on no more than 2 social networks (usually Facebook + Twitter or LinkedIn). Just 8% of consumers use 5 or more sites. Consumers are satisfied with the current offer: they have integrated their social media use in their daily lives and have no intention of making changes any time soon. The new routine is set and that makes it doubly hard for new social networks to reach a large audience.

However, there is one notable exception. Consumers are willing to fit in unique applications. Instagram and Pinterest are the two rising stars that meet this requirement. Use of the two sites is still very limited (3%-4%) but a good portion of consumers intend to start using them in the future. Also, their current users are extremely enthusiastic. We expect more users to discover Instagram and Pinterest in the near future.

Consumers limit the number of brands but have clear expectations

More than half of consumers are connected to at least one brand on social media. The average consumer follows some 10 to 15 brands. Most brands are monitored passively. Consumers only interact with a handful of brands. This means brands have just a small window of opportunity to make the shortlist.

Consumer communication with brands is unambiguous; they know exactly what they want. They like to keep informed of new products and news in general. In addition, they are interested in promotions and free goodies. Consumers want to be actively involved in the management of the companies they are following. They are primarily interested in improving existing products and services. Ultimately they are also trying to do themselves a favour: as loyal customers, good products and services are in their own best interest.

80% of consumers want to help but only 16% of companies let them

The study conducted by InSites Consulting, SSI and No Problem! shows that the overwhelming majority of consumers are prepared to collaborate with companies they are interested in. 80% wouldn’t mind receiving an invitation. However, other studies by InSites Consulting have found that only 16% of companies have any experience with consumer collaboration.

Consumers still prefer to give companies feedback via e-mail. The website comes second and social media are back in third place. As stated above, consumers have a preference for improving existing products and services. Still, quite a few consumers are interested in brainstorming about other things such as new products or a new advertising campaign. Some even dream of having a say in the company’s overall strategy.

65% are prepared to join a company’s community in order to collaborate with that company. Unsurprisingly, Facebook is the preferred channel for this purpose but the second place of market research communities is less self-evident. The conclusion that consumers prefer to involve a market research agency is remarkable in and of itself.

To better understand the results, we looked into consumer motivation to help companies. The main reason is simple: consumers hope companies will put their feedback to good use. Consumers with this motivation join a research community because they think companies are likely to act upon the advice of such a community.

For the full InSites Consulting report click here, and here are Steven’s website and slideshare links.



Ten reasons social media will decide tonight’s debate and the Presidential Election

October 3, 2012 0 Comments

With less than thirty-five days until this year’s Presidential election and early voting already underway, tonight’s debate represents a critical opportunity for both candidates to determine the outcome of the election. This is more than an issue of timing. The …

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Why social media is critical to the future of TV

October 1, 2012 9 Comments

Last week I had the pleasure of doing a keynote at the Televisa Conference in Mexico City. I talked about the shared future of TV and social media and wanted to pass on some thoughts from the event. I cannot …

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The New Measure of Networked Non-Profits: A book by Beth Kanter and Katie Paine

September 25, 2012 1 Comments

Beth Kanter and Katie Delahaye Paine have written a book that is the essential 21st-century guide for non-profits using social media. Kanter, a long-time thought leader in the non-profit field, and Paine, a leader in measurement for organizational communications have …

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U.S.-Muslim relations: How social media can help build civil society

September 17, 2012 0 Comments

In the context of the violent attacks on the U.S. embassies, catalyzed in part by a hateful anti-Muslim film, I wanted to share this panel discussion around the role of media, including social media, in promoting tolerance and understanding between …

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U.S. Embassy Attacks: How to control hateful uses of social media

September 14, 2012 2 Comments

The tragic unfolding of violence and protests at U.S. embassies around the world in response to the hateful anti-Islamic film created by an individual in the U.S. and posted on You Tube in an edited form, begs the question of …

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About Simon Mainwaring

Simon Mainwaring is the founder of We First, a leading brand consultancy that provides purpose-driven strategy, content, and training that empowers companies to lead business, shape culture, and better our world.