In 1989, the fall of the Berlin Wall paved the way for German reunification and a new Europe. The demolition of this barrier ushered in new liberties for millions of people and sent images of joyous celebration beaming around the world.
Today another barrier is falling, and its long term impact may be just as profound – though this time it’s not a physical wall and it won’t make global headlines. The barrier that is tumbling today is the one between those who construct the media and those who consume it. This demolition is also bringing new liberties. Hitherto ignored voices are being heard, content shares are helping to define the lead story and news gathering is being improved with crowd-sourced material.
At the end of the 80s, the individuals that narrated what was happening were mainly authority figures. Media owners, editors and news reporters selected the news content that millions of newspaper readers and television viewers should consume. News content was created by trained reporters using established procedures to compile their story and edit out what the media class regarded as unimportant.
If the Berlin wall was to fall today, the news reports might look rather different. Firstly, the story would break on social media. Next, agile bloggers and smartphone users would popularise the content of most interest to ordinary people through shares and Likes. The central narrators would be a more colourful mix of viral everymen and established news personalities. News content would be less about set piece story packages and more about first hand video scenes.
This fundamental shift of power, and what it means to the creative industry, was the central theme of a Social Media Week event hosted by Ketchum London on Tuesday 24 September. Specifically the session looked at how creativity is becoming intertwined with co-creation from campaign initiation to execution and evaluation. The key points were:
- Start with a great concept by knowing the adjacent possible – Amazing creativity is often as simple as seeing how something in one walk of your life can in some way illuminate another totally unconnected issue. In real terms, this is a very good reason to read, watch and expose yourself to as wide a variety of experiences as possible.
- Be bold and be brave – Consciously make a decision on whether you want to work with others. Could a craft specialist help? What about a pop icon, expert witness or your user community? Build something entirely from crowd sourced content or go it alone. But do it deliberately. Think in images and video, not words and A4.
- Create a bow wave of interest – When you are ready to launch, time your paid-for media so that it sets off a surge of sharing. Know the difference between visibility promotion and share promotion. Take characters from your creative and give them a voice on social. Release your teaser. Relay an exclusive to your followers. Make a splash.
- Use the right channels – Facebook and Twitter are no brainers. Google+ helps optimise organic search. Tools can help you identify your influencers, and who they are influencing. Consider the growing dominance of mobile content and how YouTube is the second biggest search engine. Make online or offline content work together.
- Power your evangelists – Go social local mobile, let people interact and create more content, encourage parody versions, create games, use outdoor advertising and have calls to action. Consider how people are relying less on traditional search engines to find content as they scan streams of information from people they trust.
- Leave no dead ends – Tomorrow’s campaigns will take every opportunity, at every stage, to get people involved. Soon we’ll be seeing more #hashtags at the beginning of films, adverts and newspaper columns. There will be more exclusive content for loyal fans, points reward systems for social interactions, Twitter reviews in print adverts and audience opinion in video. Always make sure that the content your share circles back to your brand.
Here’s the deck from our Creativity in the Age of Social Media presentation too.