In our continued coverage of NY Social Media Week 2013, we recap Buzzfeed’s presentation, “Genuine Appeal – Creativity and Authenticity in the Social Age” delivered by Jeff Greenspan and Mike Lacher.
Social media, as the name might suggest, is all about being social with others—and what’s more social than a party? “The social space is one huge party where everyone in the world shows up everyday,” explained Jeff Greenspan, chief creative officer at Buzzfeed. During a Social Media Week presentation with Mike Lacher, Buzzfeed creative director, they explained why tapping into the “LOL” and “OMG” lingo of Internet culture were among the things that make Buzzfeed’s content inherently relatable and shareable.
Rather than imagining the work or brand on a stage as a performer, Greenspan and Lacher urged us to imagine the brand in a party space instead. Easy enough. Parties—they’re fun, entertaining, encourage mingling, and all about conversation and being present in the space. Following that logic, Lacher reminded us that every party has its fouls. According to Buzzfeed, here are some of the worst party fouls a brand can commit in the social space.
1. Just talking about yourself
2. Interrupting people
3. Begging people to like you (unless you happen to be a puppy)
4. Saying the same thing you said at the last party
5. Rehearsing everything you say
6. Trying to talk to every person (try connecting with a few instead)
7. Asking people to leave and come to your smaller, weirder party (we’re looking at you, microsites)
8. Upper decking and ruining the social space for everyone with tweets like, “RT this and we’ll donate $5 to some random charity.”
The party fouls they brought up were a great way to imagine social. On any given night, you would never go to a party and exclusively talk about how great you are, desperately beg others to like you, or come prepared with a script to read in place of real interaction. Then again if you do, then there’s a much bigger conversation that needs to happen…
The point they were making is that brands commit these party fouls time and time again, then wonder why people don’t engage. Party fouls make people and brands seem ingenuine, and let’s face it—no one wants to be friends with someone boring and self-serving.
So what should a brand be doing at the social media party? The first is the golden rule of engaging anyone – listen. Before speaking, brands should know what’s happening around them and be immersed in the space. More than that, they should listen to the way people in the space are speaking. Greenspan and Lacher cited their own posts on Buzzfeed and the use of gifs, lists and internet lingo. It’s the way their users communicate and the way they communicate to their users.
Another point they made was to revisit the gut reaction. If a drink spills, we know we should react by cleaning it, but maybe your gut reaction was instead to get the person a new drink. Similarly, brands should view a situation through their own lens and react in a way that makes sense to their brand personality.
Other suggestions include letting go of the need to be perfect, instead focusing on being collaborative and quick; and remembering that there will be other parties where you can revive a good idea. And if you’re thinking, Buzzfeed’s advice doesn’t apply to your brand because you’re not a publisher, think again. All brands are publishers thanks to platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and the list goes on.
Perhaps most importantly, Greenspan and Lacher reminded us that playing it safe is boring. “Brands have an enormous approval process, but to succeed the most, you have to be willing to take those risks.”
Watch their full presentation below and share your thoughts with us in the comments!
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We’ll be covering select Social Media Week events here on the JWT blog, so check back for the latest updates. You can join the conversation by following @JWTNewYork,@JWT_Worldwide and tweeting with the hashtag #smw13.