New adventures in Social Media (or; new campaign launched today!)

It’s easy to spend money. And it’s equally easy to be lazy with campaigns because you can spend money. Buy some outdoor here, put a funky new website up there, run a bit of cool XM to raise local awareness. But when there’s no money to go around, that’s a great excuse for some experimentation and innovation.

The future is social and interactive.

I don’t believe that it’s possible anymore to create campaigns which are expected to be effective, but which rely on talking at the audience.

We’ve got to involve our consumer, make them part of the conversation.

And that’s the basis for the Christmas Campaign. With no money (thanks UK Government), we needed to come up with an extremely low-cost campaign, but one which would engage the audience.

Hence playing wine glasses.

Let’s face it, after a few libations, we’ve all wetted the tips of our fingers and marvelled at the notes we can produce from a part filled glass (or is that just me?).

It’s fun. It’s easy. It’s something anyone can do – and challenge others to do.

It’s a conversation starter.

So the campaign looks roughly like this:

The public visit our site and watch the video. They see that there’s a competition to win £150 worth of vouchers and that anyone can enter (our campaign was shot on an iPhone, so technology isn’t a barrier).

At home, they experiment with different Christmas songs, film themselves playing and then upload it to us/YouTube. At the end of December there’s a public vote to choose the winners (group or individual).

But what’s this got to do with saving lives?

Actually, plenty. One of the rules of the competition is that all videos have to contain an anti-drink-driving message (how this is incorporated is up to the submitter).

The theory is that the act of creation and integrating this message will drive the sentiment deeper into people’s minds (kinaesthetic learning, reinforcement theory, maybe even a bit of goal complex oriantation).

When they visit our site to check out the playlist of entries, they’ll be surrounded by campaign messaging.

And when they view competing entries, they’ll get hit with the message again.

Meanwhile, out in the real world…

The guy in the video (Michael Bowes – awesome professional drummer and, strangely, someone I knew when I worked for Virgin Atlantic) was gigging in the same pub the night after the film was shot.

The bar staff were the same guys who were there during the ‘shoot’. And they happened to leave a few glasses on the counter (or maybe it was deliberate – I wasn’t there so couldn’t possibly comment).

Michael decided to give it another shot. And the pub joined in. Apparently there were about 100-150 people sitting at tables trying to replicate the concept.

So, suddenly, we’re moving the concept from a little bit of online experimentation into real-world application. We hope that people will shoot their songs and then talk about it while they’re out and about.

“What are you doing?” Someone will ask.

“Oh I’m trying out something I did for a competition,” they’ll hopefully answer. “You can win £150 just by playing a Christmas song on wine glasses. Could use that right now!”

“Where do you enter?”… [You get the general idea]

Not only will this hopefully generate more traffic for our site (and more people viewing the campaign messages), but every time someone plays a glass when they’re out, they’ll hopefully be reminded of the video they recorded (reinforcement theory).

In which they had to include an anti-drink-driving message… While they’re in a pub or bar…

And the campaign grows…

By this point, you’re probably wondering what all the fuss is about. After all, we didn’t exactly get a hundred thousand views in the first hour (although I was so excited by the 43 we did get before I’d even Tweeted it – just as excited as I was when Embrace Life was doing 10,000 an hour. Isn’t strange how creative and possibility excites far more than metrics?).

We wanted to deepen the campaign by involving children (who would tell Mum and Dad to look at our website to see their video…). But how do you do that effectively in a target market that isn’t old enough to drink?

We saw an opportunity to link the theory of glass playing to physics (resonant frequencies) and music. Suddenly, we’ve got our hook.

Even before we’d officially launched it, one of our Partners was getting something into a bulletin that will go to every music teacher in Brighton and Hove. We’ve pitched it at every school in Sussex and, looking at the e-shot tracking, a good number of them are clicking through to the site (page view time is currently 2m 40s).

It’s even being circulated around PubWatch schemes (groups of landlords) and I’m hearing that some pubs want to put in their own entries.

Without even asking, we’ve got three or four XM opportunities set up in the next week in really high footfall locations. Where members of the public will be able to try to concept out for themselves.

And while they’re watching other people having a go, our Road Safety officers will get a chance to talk to the crowds, transmitting other vital messages. I’m calling this stickability.

And none of this is costing anything… But it’s forming memories that may help to save a life.

We’ve even changed our language.

Out has gone the old ‘Don’t Drink and Drive’ rhetoric. We know people are going to drink over Christmas.

We’re not going to stop that (I’m certainly going to have a few tipples at the various parties that will be going on).

But what we want people to do is not drink and drive. It’s an extension, but for our work, represents a subtle shift. We’re now talking in terms of something that we might be able to manage, rather than something we can’t.

And we’re using QR Codes.

While I’m not a massive fan of leaflets, ours features a QR Code to take people directly to the campaign area on our website, where they can get links for bus, rail and taxi firms.

We’re suggesting that they keep the leaflet on them – after all, if they’re out and about somewhere new, are they going to know the local links?

And every time that they scan the QR Code, not only will they get taken to our Christmas campaign page, but they’ll have to look at a leaflet designed to remind them not to drink and drive.

So that’s a lot of change.

To more experienced social media practioners, the above might sound pretty old-hat. But for us, working away in local government, it’s the start of a whole new approach.

Yes, we had success with Embrace Life, but that was on the back of an incredible concept, story and execution. And it didn’t need other people to resubmit content to work.

We’ve never used QR Codes before – and we’re all excited by the potential that we’re finding them. The last two years of incremental growth in my team has brought us to this bold, new frontier.

We’ve never pulled off a campaign of this potential scale and intensity while spending less that £800 all in.

It’s an interesting situation to be in. A new adventure in social media.

Terrifying and exciting at the same time. But, you know what? Those 43 views (with no promotion) in the first hour, as tiny a sum as that is, makes me think we’ll pull it off.

We’ve got the psychological modeling in place behind it. We’ve got the accessibility. We’ve got the fun factor.

All we need now are the participants… So watch this space, as they say. (Even better, take part yourself – make sure that you read the rules though!).

A couple of Thank Yous:

I’d like to say a quick thank you to the people who made the filming work.

To Michael Bowes, the musician who gave his time to help us
To Laylah Driscoll, our brilliant graphic designer, for trying to work out how to do the tuning and then filming the results
To Gill Starkie for arranging the pub, and Michael
To the Boar’s Head in Horsham, West Sussex, for being good sports.
And thank you to all of the people internally who have jumped behind the concept, understanding what we’re trying to do, and for not thinking me totally mad…

Thank you all.


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