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WOMMA part 2: The power of community

Sharyn Smith -  Founder and CEO of Social Soup
By Sharyn Smith  //  Fri 22nd November 2013
Sharyn Smith, of Social Soup returns with a recap of this year's WOMMA summit.  She shares the best bits from day two and three, despite feeling the effects of a few too many glasses of moonshine the night before…

WOMMA part 2: The power of community

A room full of copycats
As the undisputed home of country music, Nashville is admittedly a unique place for a conference. The Country Music Hall of Fame next to my hotel holds Elvis’s gold guitar and Cadillac and there’s a whole street of honky tonk bars hosting many live bands every night. But, while the setting has been a hoot, it’s second to the insights gathered over the past week.

The headliner today was Mark Earls author of The Herd, which is a must read for anyone who wants to understand what drives human behaviour. Mark starts off by telling us that marketers tend to conceptualise behaviour only at the individual level and forget social behaviour. He claims that the most important influence on individual behaviour is actually the behaviour of others – we are hardwired to be social creatures and mimic and copy what others do. (We act as a herd!).

He explained his thinking by getting everyone to stand up, find a partner and hold hands. (This was tough for the audience at 9am, day 2 into a conference!). He asked us to try and get our partner off the ground. After awkwardly standing there for a few seconds someone in the room started jumping with their partner and pretty soon the whole room was jumping with their partner. You guessed it…. we all acted like a herd.

Social TV
Speaking of herds, next up were some staggering statistics from Ed Keller, Keller Fay and Beth Rockwood about social TV. The group shared the result of a large-scale project designed to understand the social TV phenomenon. The research was conducted through an iPhone, where 1,700 people noted their social TV usage over seven days. The initiative resulted in over 27,500 entries and a collection of really interesting insights such as: 37% of people in the representative survey talked about something to do with TV (shows, characters etc.) across the week. The most talked about genres were Sci-fi, sports and reality TV. Most interestingly, the amount of social conversation whilst watching TV was about the same as when they weren’t watching TV.  

Influence happens
The next session I attended was actually my own. Myself and Lars Groeger from the Macquarie Graduate School of Management spoke about how influence happens and why people recommend using influence. We took the audience through examples of how people in our campaigns discovered a new product and their journey to recommending and discussing the product across their networks. We called it the story of influence. Lars also looked at motivations for sharing around status, social and altruism. We finished off by urging the audience to treat influence as a much more complex system – it’s not a linear or even two way process, but more a message that gets bounced around between groups like a social pinball.

A crazy good campaign
The last session was a presentation around a highly successful campaign for Kelloggs after they found Pop Tarts were experiencing a big challenge – the need to reconnect with Teens.

The brand team decided to bring back an old campaign idea they knew worked with the audience called Crazy Good Summer, but gave it a new social twist. They identified music as their core platform and signed up a number of big artists. They then announced a special tour, however, kept the locations secret. Fans had to secure a place to the concert through their social media activity.

The next activity is where it gets more interesting. A lot of the buzz in the US at the moment is about real time advertising. (The best example to date of this is probably the Oreo cookie response to the lights going out at the Superbowl). So, over the lead-up to their concerts, Pop Tarts planned a number of real time social responses to further engage their audience. For example, they had a cartoonist ready to capture the reunion of ‘N Sync at the VMAs. Drew Hodges from Kelloggs said a lot of it was planned but made to appear random and gave the approach a name I hadn’t heard before… ‘plandom’. In addition to all this, they also took a large toaster across the country whilst on tour dropping into cities along the way and giving out samples and ‘concert cash’.

When it was time for the actual events Pop Tarts created a tattoo station, where fans could make their own sign for the artist. They were encouraged to share the content on social media for the chance to win backstage passes.

The overall results of the campaign speak for themselves. Pop Tarts connected with 1 million, highly engaged fans, reached a total of 40 million people and saw 534 million social media impressions. Most importantly, the brand is now in growth and no longer declining.

It was an excellent campaign that demonstrated the importance of delivering real value to consumers, which exceeded expectations and was genuine – all in real time. As Drew said: “Its no longer enough to tell people you are a great brand you have to demonstrate it”.

And on that note, I’ll end the highlights of a crazy good downtown Nashville conference.
WOMMA part 2: The power of community
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