This is the fourth post in a five-part series on What Rockstars Can Teach You About Kicking Ass With Social Media. Part one is here, part two is here, part three is here.
One area that so many companies are struggling with in creating content is finding a way to make it valuable, interesting and relevant to the people they are trying to reach. Or put another way, they are struggling to find the ‘bigger idea’ behind their content.
Rockstars do a great job with finding the ‘bigger idea’ behind their music, tapping into ideas, themes and beliefs that trigger involvement and interest from their fans. The video for the song World on Fire is a classic example of this. Here’s how the video came to be:
In 2003, Mike Quinn was an engineering student in Canada. He was working with a charitable organization Engineers Without Borders. EWB brings together people that want to donate their time and talents to help people in impoverished areas around the world. In 2003, Mike had been working on severals projects in Africa, and was detailing his group’s efforts via a series of articles.
One of those articles was discovered by Sarah McLachlan, who was about to start shooting the video for her new song World on Fire. After reading Mike’s articles, and discovering how EWB was impacting so many lives, Sarah decided to take almost every penny of the $150,000 Arista had budgeted her for the video for World on Fire, and donate that money to 11 charitable organizations, including EWB. The projects that were executed from Sarah’s donations eventually bettered the lives of over 1 million people around the globe!
But there was one problem; Sarah still had to shoot a video for World on Fire, and now she had no money for the video, save $15. So she took that $15 and bought a video tape. And she got a crew to volunteer their time to shoot a very simplistic video for the song. What Sarah did was detailed what the normal expenses for the video shoot would have been and instead where the money went now. A few thousand that would have normally paid for catering during the shoot for a day, instead bought a few thousand meals for homeless children. Examples such as this really hit home Sarah’s core message (bigger idea) that by donating a seemingly small amount, a larger number of people could have better lives. Here’s the amazing video:
And oh by the way, Sarah received a Grammy nomination for that video. So she got to help over a million people AND get a Grammy nomination. Not a bad return on a $15 video!
So how does this translate to companies and how they use social media?
Let’s talk about how Patagonia positions their blog, The Cleanest Line. Now the strategy for many companies would be to use their blog as a promotional vehicle, right?
But Patagonia doesn’t directly promote their company and products on The Cleanest Line. Instead, they focus on the ideas, themes and interests that are important to their customers. The company focuses on the environment, sustainability, and being active outdoors. Because Patagonia is smart enough to understand that it’s not about their products, it’s about what ‘bigger idea’ is their products a part of? By focusing on more customer-centric ideas and themes, the content on The Cleanest Line is much more interesting, valuable, and relevant to the blog’s readers.
Another great example of tapping into the ‘bigger idea’ is what Kodak does with its A Thousand Words blog. Instead of putting the focus on Kodak’s cameras and printers and film, instead A Thousand Words focuses on photography. Because THAT is the bigger idea that its customers are interested in. They want to know how to take better pictures. If Kodak can teach them how, then they have created value for their readers, and contrast that value being created with a competitor that’s using their social media efforts to directly promote their products. Who wins?
On Tuesday we looked at how Graco positions their blog as being written by parents, for parents. But even here, in positioning the blog as being about parenthood, Graco has tapped into the ‘bigger idea’ that their customers are interested in. Their customers ultimately don’t want to know how to buy Graco products, they want to know how to be better parents. So that’s what the blog focuses on, and that’s a big reason why it’s been so successful for Graco.
So if you want more fans of your company and its social media efforts, find a way to tap into the bigger idea behind your content.
Coming tomorrow, the fourth and final way that rockstars can teach companies how to kick ass with social media; by embracing their fans.
BTW if your company would like to learn how to use social media to better connect with your fans/evangelists, please email me.
Brenda Young says
Great post, Mac. I love the Sarah McLachlan story and I think your point about the bigger idea is well taken. It goes to the heart of how Social Media can connect a company with its customers because the bigger ideas should be a reflection of the needs and concerns of it customers. It helps people feel that they have been heard and understood in a very real way. These examples demonstrate the values of Social Media that people expect: generosity, sincerity, and trustworthiness.
Companies need to realize that surviving long-term is more than just focusing on increasing shareholder value, it’s about being a responsible member of the customer community and letting customers know that they are appreciated and valued.
Great post! I’ve dealt with companies that have only been concerned with a sell when it comes to blogging. It’s hard to explain to them the bigger picture but your examples are great!
.-= Jacinta´s last blog ..Contact Us =-.
Andy Hayes says
Love the examples – its fantastic to see brands who get it and who are using genuine, non-spammy campaigns that are really adding some value.
.-= Andy Hayes´s last blog ..Interview: Kaleidoscopic Globe Trotting =-.
Social Media Marknadsföring says
Great post Mack!
Following your posts carefully.