During our tenure as producers at Current TV in its formative years from 2006 to 2009, we built a new production model based on audience co-creation. In essence, not only were we giving our audience what they wanted, but we asked them to help us in creating a new form of entertainment.
What we did four years ago has even greater currency today in marketing. Leveraging audiences to tell their stories on behalf of brands and services has never been more important. B-to-b marketers have long trotted out their best customers in ads that serve as case studies demonstrating how the marketer helps build successful businesses. American Express Open is one marketer that frequently uses small business owners as spokespeople for how American Express Open supports their business objectives.
In today’s market, the actual consumer as brand ambassador has become the new “seal of approval.” As Adweek has documented in countless articles, an endorsement of the brand by the consumer carries more weight than ever before.
Marketers now direct massive resources to leverage the power of consumer connections in their messaging: partnering with “mommy bloggers”; creating Facebook Fan pages with deals and coupons for friends; talking directly with consumers on Twitter; empowering consumers on Foursquare; and offering deals based on social engagement are just a few of the 2010 social media tools being extended and enhanced in 2011.
Still, for any of these methods to really have impact, they must have an authentic consumer voice. Otherwise they will be exposed in our very transparent, “got you” social media stratosphere. The key is in capturing authenticity. Here are some key methods for finding the “real” voice for your brand:
The journalistic approach
Today, everyone is a journalist in some way. Facebook and Twitter are the new wire services. What we learned as nonfiction, video-focused journalists with an army of 18- to 34-year-olds who were part of our network was how to find the most compelling stories—and then to use those stories.
Today, as throughout history, the most compelling stories are those that feature real events with real people, not those crafted by creative professionals. Marketers and their partners need to think and act like journalists. Like good reporters, they must uncover the consumer stories that generate positive social media noise and find exciting and compelling ways to disseminate these stories to the masses.
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