Game plan for a (potential) new client…

So, I’m mentally putting together a digital marketing plan for a potential client.   They’re a team that’s nailing down final funds to create a pilot of a new TV “reality” series that will feature food, holograms, and feature the brother of someone famous.

You know, the usual shit.

The way I view it, digital is a major ingredient to the success of practically any significant brand today.  It shouldn’t be ignored, overlooked or underestimated.  Digital is how we connect and get informed.  It’s how we discover the new.  It’s how ideas are spread.

Below, I’ve outlined three general concepts that are central to the success of not just digital marketing, but digital as a whole.  These concepts extend beyond marketing as they touch on anything digital effects, from brand development and management to continued product development to reputation management to future commerce opportunities.   They would also form the foundation of any digital marketing plan I would propose.

Content Strategy

Content strategy has many definitions.  For me, within the context here, I’ll definite it as the coordinated use of all aspects of the various content levels of a brand for the purposes of successfully enhancing the brand.

What is this content?  It’s more than the show itself.  It’s segments within the show.  It’s each character, and their development and interaction.   It’s the integration of the guest hosts into the plot.  It’s the ongoing settings of the various sets the show takes place in.   It’s the technology behind the holograms.  It’s the food.  And, if successful, it will be how we will be able to integrate the audience into the factor.

How the content is distributed amongst the various platforms will be part of the strategy.  From video “sneak peak” promotions on Facebook and YouTube to potential character participation on Twitter, there are a multitude of opportunities to not only get in front of fans of the show but also to interact with them.  The use of all of this content must be well coordinated and consistent with the brand image.  It must be designed to be in line with the business goals.

The overall point is that a necessary element of any digital effort is the coordinated use of a brand’s tangible assets that can be displayed in a coordinated manner across various digital platforms.  It is central to strategy.

Monitoring or “Listening”

Digital does not always mean marketing.  It also means brand intelligence gathering.  And it also means reputation management.

Any organization, product, or service that’s larger than your neighborhood dry cleaner is being (or at least has been) talked about online.  That means this show will be talked about…pretty much right away.  It is absolutely necessary for brand managers to monitor what is being discussed about their brands.  They must pay attention as to the content of what’s being said, its sentiment, the level of influence behind the discussion, and how well distributed it is or can potentially get.  This is one of the “ignore at your peril” situations.

I guarantee you that in the immediate few days following the Brian Williams fiasco, NBC, its competitors, news industry insiders, and major PR firms spent many hours intensely following what was being said about Williams in the online arena.  And I fully believe that NBC chose to take action and suspend Williams when it became thoroughly apparent that his self-administered temporary hiatus from anchoring the news desk while waiting to talk his way out of the situation on the planned Letterman appearance wasn’t going to work.  Twitter was aflame with hashtag conversations such as #BrianWilliamsMisremembers.  Photo memes popped up all over the place depicting hilarious contrived claims of Williams.  The leadership of NBC had no choice.  They listened to not only their own people and to industry influencers, but they listened to the overall totality of what was being said…on social media.

That’s a very robust example.  But the reality is that brands are being discussed – and reviewed online all the time.  There are several services specifically designed to help entities monitor online conversations so they can get greater insight, showing us how important online monitoring is.  In fact, businesses have cut back on their spending on focus groups as they rely more heavily on the available tools that allow them to gather intelligence.

The greater insight gleaned from online monitoring also opens up more marketing opportunities.  For instance, Twitter has now established an entire division that seeks partnerships with the entertainment, sports, and news media industries.  They now allow targeted ads to those who are discussion specific TV shows and provide deep analytics as to conversation level.   This goes beyond the already well established practice of creating and participating in hashtag conversations.  Twitter will be key.

Engagement thru to community development

Digital is an interactive medium.  That means it’s participatory.  Especially the social media aspect.  That means opportunity.

My guess is that the appeal of this show will be reasonably narrow, but invariably deep.  Most of the fans will have an intense attraction to the show.  Be it the unique settings, the interactions between all of the characters, or the overall unique concept, the appeal will create a loyal bevy of fans who will not only await each week’s episode, but also look to interact with like minded type between broadcasts.

This means that they may congregate in areas such as Twitter.  They’ll congregate when the show is being aired and then they’ll stay congregated to continue the conversation.  This affords the opportunity to engage these fans if and when appropriate.  If they start to develop relationships, even minor ones, then this show is at the beginning steps of creating a community.

Here’s an article about the use of social media during last year’s Academy Awards, followed by a quote that’s pertinent to all of this…

And that quote from the article:

“Once something goes out on social media, it’s no longer in the control of the person who started the conversation,” said Karen North, Director of USC’s Annenberg Program on Online Communities. “We’ve become a participation culture. People don’t want to just sit back and consume media or experiences. They want to participate.”

That last sentence – they want to participate – says it all.  Granted, that’s the Oscars, but the point remains the same. People will be discussing the show online.  And, if and when appropriate, it offers a potentially tremendous opportunity for the show to interact with those who are “participating”.

Again, I’m not sure where all this stands now.  My point is to create awareness of how I believe digital can best benefit my potential client.  It could serve as a critical element in the success of the show.

I’m hoping this works out.  It will be a lot of fun.

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