Digital Digest #74: Don’t Just Solve the Problem

Digital Digest: What Edelman Canada is reading in digital marketing, technology and strategy. Fresh links served up Fridays.

Your editor heard a story once about how the architects at OMA – the Rotterdam-based firm famously founded by Rem Koolhaas – do their work. It goes like this: a young architect is partnered with an experienced architect to work on a seemingly impossible project. After a series of coffee-fueled all-nighters they come up with a brilliant solution. The young one sits back and say “we did it, this is great!” The more experienced one reaches for the plans, tears them up, and tosses them on the floor, saying, “we’ve demonstrated that we can solve the problem. Now let’s find the best solution.”

Every now and then it’s important to stop and rethink what you’re doing. Digital strategists as well should revisit the fundamentals of what they do: How is an online community different from an offline one? What is the value of a community to our clients? Why do we gravitate to our peers in the first place? How does a successful community differ from a bad one (see first item)? That’s why this week’s edition of Edelman Canada’s Digital Digest asks readers to revisit their assumptions about online communities, so that they don’t just solve problems but also understand them.

- Matthew Hayles, Editor

Why do some communities fail?

“Many companies aren’t quite sure what they are getting into,” writes The Community Roundtable, and their communities flounder for entirely predictable reasons (Digital Digest has looked at community failure before). Successful online communities require real investment from brands, but many brands don’t take the proper steps to provide community managers with the training, tools and sponsorship they need.

Community Roundtable: Online Community Success Takes Planning and Patience

Case Study: How do you choose a “brand voice”?

AdAge speaks with Bruce Stockler, the former joke writer for Jay Leno who has been the Twitter voice of advertising agency McCann Erickson since 2008. The agency wanted to avoid too much of a corporate tone, says Stockler. “I think we felt that it was a nice channel to be able to have conversations with people, and you wouldn’t be doing yourself any good by making it bombastic and self-promoting.”

AdAge: Who’s Behind McCann Erickson’s Twitter Feed?

Do you have to be big to be mighty?

A key takeaway from this article and its examples is that the size of your community doesn’t dictate your level of engagement. Rather, bringing content that is visually multifaceted and adds value to your community, whether educational or merely tickling a funny bone, is key to high levels of positive interaction. You don’t have to be big to be mighty, you just have to know who you’re talking to. (Disclosure: Coca-Cola and  Nintendo, mentioned in this article, are competitors to Edelman clients PepsiCo and Xbox (Microsoft) respectively. Red Bull and Rhino’s Energy, both mentioned, are competitors and Red Bull is an Edelman client.) – Andrew Stewart, Consumer Marketing

The Next Web: The brand with the highest engagement rate has 14,500 fans

Can a community be anonymous?

Online customers put more faith in online reviews than recommendations from friends, according to a new survey from e-commerce researcher Eccomplished. This raises an interesting question: if the main method of research is to visit a marketplace such as Amazon, is the value of word-of-mouth recommendations through friends and family declining? And is a community of anonymous reviewers your greatest ally (or threat) in winning new customers over?

Econsultancy: Consumers pay more attention to reviews than word-of-mouth

Case Study: Do you have to play it safe to get it right?

On Monday, the National Zoo in Washington, DC live-tweeted the artificial insemination of 13-year-old panda Mei Xiang – which depending on your point of view is either “panda porn” or “grossly fascinating.” Regardless, “with little more than a phone and a hashtag” (#pandaAI) the zoo congregated a flash community of observers on Twitter, and “very literally threw open a process that was until now only known through after-the-fact accounting by the media.”

DCist: Panda’s Artificial Insemination Live-Tweeted For the World to See

Video of the Week: Star Wars the Old Republic Fan Film

Your editor hopes his boss didn’t notice when he was up too late one night this week watching fan-made films based on popular movie and computer game franchises. Armed with the bare minimum of tech and some fancy editing tricks, communities of fans are creating content ranging from polished (see here, here and below) to the well-intentioned.

Brandflakes for Breakfast: Star Wars the Old Republic Fan Film

Edelman Canada’s Digital Digest is a weekly bundle of links, served up on Edelman Canada’s Our Ideas blog on Fridays. It’s also available by email. If you know someone who would like to be added to the mailing list, have any questions or just want to share some thoughts on anything you read here, email me. Let’s get a conversation going.

Digital Digest is edited by Matthew Hayles.

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