Another random story from the Swankie career vault. This week I have been thinking about when I built a raft on a team building course in Wales. It was cold. It was Wales. We were a bunch of bankers building a raft together in Wales, in the cold. When we finally got it afloat I got my bum wet because the seats weren’t exactly the sturdiest thing I have ever sat on. Plus, we were last team to make it to the other side of the river. But you know what, when we did we yelped with joy, hugged each other and felt so uncontrollably happy at what we had achieved together, it was immense and my happiest memory of Wales. The fact it was a bit tougher for us almost made the whole thing more rewarding, and we had all made a difference to make it happen.
I’m stating the obvious again, but doing stuff together makes us feel good as human beings. We also get happiness thrills from the pleasure of giving and contributing to causes. So my hunch? There must be more we can do with brands to create things people can do for good together, like the Pepsi Refresh project, that can also make us happier people. Maybe we will even like the brands more as a result and buy more of their stuff. A win for everyone, surely? Especially now the internet makes it so much easier to bring a bunch of people together in a community.
The danger? How do you avoid becoming yet another facebook page for a good cause, sponsored by a big brand chasing as many likes and status updates as we can, because I am a big hearted girl who wants to do her bit – but there is only so many times you can promote a good cause before you loose interest or it becomes boring for your friends and followers. Harsh, but I think it’s a fair call.
These were the questions I had in my mind when I went along to #smcsyd this week to hear John Johnson (@jjprojects) and Dae Levine (@daelevine) speak, I was curious to hear what they had to say about what made Earth Hour and the Nestle Killer campaign known for their global successes, mass following and tangible results.
Their presentations were good and insightful, and a few people have already beaten me to good analysis of the content they chatted through, so you can read about them here. From @erietta & from @HannahDeMilta
What I tried to take from the presentations were any key lessons are in building a groundswell around your cause for maximum success. Are there critical factors we need to consider to help achieve that pop culture status (and get Aston tweeting about you)? What are the lessons for any brands (or agencies representing brands) who are excited about the opportunity to do something like this? Do it well, as well as have the maximum chance to demonstrate to the finance director next year it was a sound investment for the company? I was hoping these two might have some answers for me.
So, if you are keen to start a little social revolution for a cause close to your heart, these are some pointers that I took away from the night that might help you out.
1. Make sure everyone can make a difference to your cause.
If everyone feels like their effort is important and appreciated they will become more involved in supporting and doing it. I personally am crap at tying rafts together – but my god, I knew my effort counted to us making it to the other side, so I gave it my all and it made my celebration in the ‘success’ I had helped create so much sweeter. I also liked the fact Greenpeace thanked everyone who helped them out, personally, where possible, by email.
2. Make it really simple.
Turn your lights off for an hour. Stop buying KitKats. Easy. Doing stuff can be scary for people. Make it something everyone can do if you want lots of people to do it.
3. Let people put their own stamp on it.
Make your content open and encourage people to play with it and adapt it for their own world. I was curious to hear both Dae and John talk about how they were just as proud of the offshoots and adaptations their campaigns had inspired.
4. Get people emotionally connected.
Greenpeace used imagery of a monkey for a reason. People get attached to human story and animals. Bring emotion into it wherever possible.
5. Define and aim for success
Even if it feels a bit pie in the sky, have a goal you would want to achieve and strive to make it happen.
I also found it interesting what they said also echoed what I learnt the week before from the guys at Indy Mogul about making great online videos while they were visiting Sydney on their Australian tour.
They call themselves the “first network for the YouTube generation” and they have over 10 million views a month. Their formula? Make programs with really simple genuine concepts, concepts easy for people to get involved in and do (see Backyard FX as reference, which is a show about how to create movie type special effects using household utensils) and enable community conversation around that on YouTube, so the community can help shape the channel and the program. They even thank a viewer in every show who has commented on the previous edition. Simple, but effective and spurs more people to leave comments in hope of being featured next time.
The Indy Mogul 4 Golden Rules
- Be genuine
- Be resourceful and creative, don’t be too slick
- Be interactive and responsive
- Keep it short
I took from these two events that whether you are making something for good, or just something to get the LOLs, it seems there some really quite simple things to remember that can help get the idea resonating with as many people as possible and producing warm and fuzzy feel good as a result.
Making stuff happen together is a unquestionably a good thing, and as brands start kicking into planning for their 2011 campaigns I am getting excited about what we might all help create next year and the smiles that might bring in the future. Happy idea making!