Notes from C21 Social Media Forum

C21’s Social Media Forum said that the event would provide

a creative workshop that defines and develops how the producers channels and rights owners can work with social media platforms to develop business and extend creativity. And generate new revenue streams today!

Despite not being desperately bothered about generating new revenue streams,  I was sufficiently interested by the rest of the description to book a place. Of course, I wasn’t really expecting it to deliver on its promise of being a ‘creative workshop’, and it didn’t. The event was more of a traditional conference, with speakers and time-for-questions. Overall, it was quite useful though, especially the morning sessions. Here are selected notes from some of the more interesting slots:

Opening keynote: Building brands with social media, Ann Longley (Digital strategy director, Mediaedge:cia)

  • how do we use social media, and what it means.
  • “You’d have to be living under a rock not to notice Twitter these days”
  • “What’s happening in Iran shows the power of social media beyond entertainment|
  • “press coverage of Twitter signals the ‘mainstreaming’ of social media”
  • What is social media anyway? Quote from MEC Guide to Social Media – “all online activities, tools, platforms and practices that allow users to collaborate, create, …”
  • “Traditional broadcasting model is breaking down”
  • social media is dominated by UGC: creating, sharing and remixing content
  • campaigning – e.g. NUS vs HSCB, M&S bra size cost, 13k on FB. There’s no such thing as local news any more.
  • organising protests has never been easier
  • finding out what people are saying about your brands online: “Many brands have fans online, even without actively cultivating it. It happens naturally.”
  • “smart brands cultivate their fanbase”
  • “smart fans influence brands” (or at least, influence brands which listen)
  • (while brands can avert crises by listening (Sony Bravia defusing negative story around Paint advert by monitoring online before it turned into a problem)
  • “…and invite their customers to help them”
  • What makes a good social media strategy? At the heart of any campaign you need a good product or service. Examples: Obama – being everywhere, T-mobile – UGC, Skins – energising their fanbase, Sony Ericsson – pocketTV, Dell – going from Dell hell to Idea Storm
  • content, communities and conversations = conversion (to £ or eyeballs)
  • social entertainment: social media enriching experiences. creative industries engaging audiences across channels
  • some examples of Alternative Reality Games (“it’s kind of a geeky thing, seen as quite left-field and not compelling for a mainstream audience…”, but interesting anyway) – cited McDonalds’ The Lost Ring, Superstruct, Penguin’s We Tell Stories
    A Swarm of Angels….
  • earned media: word of mouth from friends and trusted people
  • Whuffie: in a post scarcity economy, reputation and social capital rule.

How to work with Joost to extend your entertainment brand, Henrik Werdelin (Chief creative officer, Joost)

  • people are increasingly consuming an audience online, but how do people find the stuff to watch?
  • social discovery is underdeveloped. The whole internet seems to be centered around Google and SEO
  • the web is bad at helping people find stuff they didn’t know they wanted to watch
  • new content discovery methods are algorithmic (amazon, joost, iplayer)
    and equivalent to zapping / channel-hopping (i.e stumbleupon)
  • “you should watch this show about pandas” vs “28 of your friends really love this show…” – Joost uses FB connect to help with this sort of social discovery
  • ‘ behaviour generated content’ AKA ‘social triggers’: generating user content without having to do anything. e.g. FB activity feeds from status changes. Going from single to married used to be just a metadata change is now an item of activity in a feed. And an important one.
  • personalisation: subscriptions & data visualisation
  • realtime-web: co-watching. what are your friends doing right now?
  • 2% creators, 8% particpators, 90% lurkers/passive viewers. How do you move the 90 into the 8 and 2?
  • Paradox of Choice
  • Joost design based on ‘freedom from choice’, i.e. preventing people feeling overwhelmed.

Using online narrative and social media to drive commercial value, Andrew Piller (Fremantle Media)

  • new media strategy: recycle, extend and create
  • era of self-expression & the rise of the prosumer
  • audience is broader than you think (not just 16-24 year olds) and niche communities are valuable
  • rules for content: personalised, participatory and narrative (if there’s no story, how will the audience engage?)
  • ingredients: linear narrative (lean back mode), non linear (lean forward / real-time), interactivity, community
  • “all of our experiences are underpinned by community”
  • Freak (goes live July 20th.) is a Freemantle co-production with MySpace currently in production (story from Broadcast Now) is the first UK online drama from MySpace. “We’d never let the audience decide the story but how they get there, the everyday decisions, can be affected and influenced by the audience”.
  • Lead character is a girl gamer. Brand partners include P&G (Tampax) and Red Bull. Brand opportunities for music, fashion, games, …
  • producer from Coronation St, director from Hollyoaks, creative prod from serial drama, AP is very young, we have a community manager.
  • Brands want new ways to talk to their customer
  • Brands (think they) want community “but don’t know how to create it”
  • Q: where did the idea come from? A: In house creative team for d
  • Q: how do you work with other social networks? A: YouTube platform where you can view the content too, but the experience is bespoke to MySpace. In the dream world you’d hyper-syndicate and use it to drive back to MySpace.
  • Q: do you need MySpace? A: Brands are nervous about the space, so it’s easier if you have a distributor on-board. Industry needs a gamechanger to prove the model. Kate Modern & Lonely Girl were good examples, but the scale and production values were not there.
  • Q: how does the international model work? A: Not geo-blocked. We’ve cleared the rights internationally, but we’re not going to promote internationally. We think we can take the format to US market or European territories later.
  • Q: who owns the content and format? A: Intellectual Property is owned by Freemantle, but the UK series is co-owned by MySpace.
  • Q: is a TV series on the agenda? A: It’s not the on the agenda, but it’s talked about.

How Xbox used the social media space at E3, Maurice Wheeler (co-founder and planning director, Digital Outlook)

  • Microsoft asked us if we’d go out there and create a social media explosion around Xbox at E3. With 3 weeks notice. Gave us a view of what they’re presenting and announcing at E3.
  • we wanted to get the interesting info to social media power users / mavens / connectors
  • aggregation: wanted to focus people on our conversations. Listening to what people are saying. Consolidating to a stream of content which comes out of the social media cloud. “Sucking out the interesting and exciting content”. Feedback loop
  • providing content to a social media savvy audience in a way that they’re happy with an comfortable with
  • flew 5 influential gamer bloggers and 5 social media power users (including Charlie, to E3).
  • primary platforms: twitter, youtube, audioboo, kyte, flickr
  • secondary platforms: qik, 12 seconds, facebook, seesmic, bambuser,, moblog, and many more
  • Q: how much of that would have happened without you? A: we can tell from the hashtag we used that we affected it [I’d agree. Just. Compare xboxe3 vs e3]
  • tips: create a #tag, have a distribution channel established, pick the right people, understand local technology constraints (e.g. make sure you’ve got wifi coverage), have a plan B, C and D