Digital differentiation: Be unique to generate the outcomes you seek

March 11, 2011

Foursquare and the NFL scored more than 200,000 check-ins worth of awareness from Super Bowl XLV parties across the United States and 125 countries, becoming the site’s most checked into venue to date. Old Spice awarded a fan exclusive, limited-time use of a promotional video. And Ultimate Fighting Championship held the first large-scale sporting event exclusively broadcasted on Facebook.

Applying social technology in innovative ways effectively attracts attention to your message — a topic that I recently discussed with Amy Martin, the CEO of Phoenix-based Digital Royalty.

Achieving results
I first met Martin in 2009 when she was organizing the NBA’s first fan Tweetup. She has since parlayed that experience into Digital Royalty, her own agency that manages digital communications for an admirable roster of sports teams, athletes, celebrities and corporations.

Martin and her team continue to create new initiatives that draw fan support to their clients’ causes, such as their work on Ultimate Fighting Championship’s Facebook campaign.

The preliminary matches for UFC’s Jan. 22 “Fight for the Troops” event was the centerpiece of its Facebook broadcast. Viewers simply had to “Like” UFC’s Facebook page to gain access to the fight. UFC has previously streamed backstage interviews and fighter weigh-ins, so streaming an event (or a portion, in this case) was the next logical step.

The “Fight for the Troops” campaign goal was to reach a new audience.  Tactics included social media, traditional media and website placements.  The campaign generated 123,000 new Facebook fans — 49,000 of those on event day.

The league clearly understands the value of going where fans are, rather than fighting to change their behaviors.  This approach works: The UFC is second only to the NBA for most pro sports league Facebook fans, according to public fan pages.

The UFC selecting the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund as its charitable partner was a significant part of  its Troops strategy. Martin finds that people come together for a cause, especially with social media.

Connecting IRL
It’s vital for practitioners to bridge the virtual and physical worlds, given that personal relationships are a cornerstone of public relations and successful business ventures.

“The magic of social media is most effective when you make things come to life,” explains Martin, who stresses simplicity over technology for technology’s sake. “Geo location apps, for example, now give us more complex ways to make connections, yet it all boils down to making online relationships come alive, whatever the method may be.”

Martin cites public relations as an essential contributor to the digital communications landscape.

“We call a lot of what we do social PR because it factors into every campaign. We rarely write press releases unless mandated by clients, and instead ask PR pros on our campaigns to reach out personally to their media outlets,” she says. “Humans connect with humans, so the pitching process changes when you’re building relationships with media who engage in social networking.”

Martin’s advice to communicators is to build your personal brand beyond the organization you represent, since it is transferrable. Modify these social media tactics to support your goals or even inspire innovation of your own.

Attract more attention online

Digital communication tools offer practitioners many methods for helping their messages be discovered. Consider the following when seeking new audiences online.

  • Take Q-and-A to the next level — Create dialog in your blog and community comment sections; readers return when you engage frequently. Or try Quora, a Q-and-A site becoming a reputable thought leadership forum for posting and following questions, as well as rating response value.
  • Mobilize your message — Connect with people in proximity by offering access to deals or events using geo-location apps like Foursquare and Facebook Places. Or create your own app to qualify the followers who most want to receive your communications, and update them instantly.
  • Polish up a podcast — There are thousands of podcasts. Those with congenial hosts, hot topics and slick production garner the most listeners or viewers. Select a frequency and duration you can manage, and for production try Audacity for sound editing and Audiojungle for theme music.
  • Be vivid with video – You know YouTube, Skype and have probably viewed a Ustream event. Go beyond these staples with Qik (recently acquired by Skype) to stream public or private videos live using your mobile phone, and create a channel on a video sharing community like Vimeo.
Ryan Zuk, APR

Ryan Zuk, APR, is a media and analyst relations professional, Phoenix PRSA Chapter member and Sage North America representative. Zuk can be reached @ryanzuk on Twitter. He also blogs at criticalmasspr.com.

Email: ryanzuk at gmail dot com


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