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Viral Marketing - It's All About Context

Viral Marketing – It’s All About Context

By Advice for Businesses No Comments

Over the weekend I was catching up on some YouTube only to be confronted with an odd and rather creepy advertisement from Sportsbet entitled “50 Shades of Greyhound”. Designed as a parody of the trailer for the movie “50 Shades of Grey” the ad parodied the original trailer with a twist, having the male protagonist depicted by a greyhound.

In the span of a week, this ad has already amassed over 300,000 views on YouTube. The video has over 10,000 likes on Facebook and has been shared just under 5,000 times.

A rather different looking Mr Grey

A rather different looking Mr Grey

Viral marketing has gained increased precedence amongst well known brands who want to connect with a younger audience. Brands such as Old Spice, Air New Zealand and Metro Trains have been able to gain world wide awareness and recognition through viral marketing. While the impact of some viral campaigns have been questionable, we believe that the most important thing for a viral campaign is its context.

Personally, I found the Sportsbet 50 Shades of Greyhound ad in bad taste. However I can see their context.

The betting market is a mature and competitive industry with many players. While many individuals who engage in betting and gambling are over 50, there is a growing demographic engaging in online gambling between the ages of 18 to 29. Viral videos and an active social media presence are an effective way of reaching this demographic.

Looking at the social media pages for Sportsbet, they have just under 500,000 likes on Facebook, 98,000 followers on Twitter and over 4,000 subscribers on YouTube. Their content is clearly cutting through to their target markets.

Past campaigns have included parodies of television shows such as Wife Swap and Game of Thrones. They have also taken to making fun of their own customers during the cricket and spring carnival seasons through advertisements depicting various customer segments as “bogan”, the “handholder” and the “International”.

In creating this “lad-like” content, Sportsbet has been able to personify itself as a mate to its younger demographic, breaking boundaries and creating engagement.

50 Shades of Greyhound has been designed for those young men, who may have been forced to watch 50 Shades of Grey with their partner. It also attracts the attention of those questioning the significance of this movie. It is an impossible situation that makes a cheeky link back to its offering.

While I clearly did not enjoy it, I can see young men around the country discussing this advertisement, looking at their phones and checking for the next greyhound race!

Engaging through Social Media

Embracing Social Media is Good Public Policy

By Advice, Advice for Businesses, Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, Government No Comments

Social media is becoming increasingly prevalent in public discussions. Governments, like business and not-for-profit organisations, need to embrace social media as a legitimate discussion tool.

If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest in the world with a population of 955 million. Twitter with its ability for quick messages and fast re-tweeting is increasingly being considered a valid news source for journalists.

Social Media is part of Web 2.0, which incorporates the development of feedback and discussion through the Internet. Several social media tools have been developed, including Myspace and Friendster, but more recently Facebook and Twitter have entered into mainstream conversation. Like many aspects of the Internet, new tools are just around the corner, including Google+ and image sharing through Pinterest.

Social media can enhance public policy by encouraging broader participation, including discussion and the ability to explain decisions. Encouraging this discussion can increase transparency and provides a sense of ownership over policy. In particular, social media can be useful in reaching demographics that tend not to respond to other forms of consultation, or are able unable to attend traditional consultative meetings.

In Australia, the community safety authorities are increasingly using social media to reach younger people, given that traditional media is having a lesser impact. For example, the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) is heavily utilising social media to influence behaviour by demonstrating the adverse effect of speed in motor vehicles. Recently, Metro Trains embarked on the Dumb Ways to Die Campaign to generate cut-through for a rail safety message.

Social media is ultimately a form of media and its use should be considered as an extension of media management. The public sector should utilise social media to convey information and engage members of the public, just as spokespeople would utilise television, radio or print media. Policies governing the use of social media are particularly important with official spokespeople being clearly identified.

The designated spokespeople should be the only members with access to official accounts and should always deliver new announcements. Other staff should be allowed to comment within their area of expertise, once they have undertaken appropriate training. The training content should include acceptable use of social media and an understanding of public domain information. Secondary spokespeople should only comment within their appropriate areas of expertise and alert the official spokespeople of adverse comments.

The Victorian Department of Justice has prepared a video guide on its social media policies. Typically, we would recommend a similar approach and find this works well for government, as well as businesses and not-for-profit organisations.

It is important to maintain a positive approach to social media and this means there are times you need manage negative comments.

There is a difference between negative and offensive comments. Offensive comments, such as discriminatory or hateful remarks should be removed immediately. Negative comments should be engaged rather than removed, showing that their concerns have been treated seriously. Where possible, it is often advisable to work through negative comments in person or through the telephone. Providing an offline response enables you to convey detailed information that may be difficult to discuss through social media.

As your community develops there may be members that respond on your behalf and assist in providing positive feedback. Community engagement and participation is a positive sign and shows the sense of ownership and belonging that has been created through social media.

Used effectively, social media can increase transparency while providing insights into governance processes. Like any method on engagement, it requires policies and guidelines for acceptable use.

Social media is no longer an instrument that can be ignored, but must be considered as a tool requiring engagement and participation. Social media is being used to convey opinions and it is better to be a part of this, rather than simply ignoring the discussion.