Most of us know what a creative idea was in the days before social media. The TV spot epitomized it: a clever message that got your attention, etched itself into your memory (at least temporarily), and maybe got you to take action. But it was a one-way message, controlled by the sender, void of any role for the viewer.
So what is creativity in the age of the avatar? Is it simply the conversations we start and the communities we build? Or is it the content we create that stimulates those conversations and makes people want to join a community? Right now, in the early stages of social media’s development, it’s often enough for a brand to simply abide by the protocols of social media: learning to listen and engage; sharing and promoting others; practicing authenticity and transparency.
But what happens when every brand is on Facebook and Twitter, when there are so many communities and conversations that we encounter cacophony? Will it be possible for a brand to gain notice or attention without it? Perhaps. But my instincts tell me that we, as marketers, will have to get more inventive with our content and that we as consumers will demand it.
So, what should we be thinking about? Here’s what I’ve got so far. Hoping you’ll help build this idea with me.
New ways to inspire co-creation
This can be anything from giving control of your brand away to avid consumers who want a voice, to pioneering co-creation opportunities like Nike’s use of the Chalkbot (above) that people invent products and content with you. Mad Men on Twitter was embraced by AMC, but what if it had been their idea to begin with, giving away products or characters to enthusiastic evangelists? This year my agency plans on inviting Boston Bruin fans to write their own Bruins Hockey “rules” in hopes of generating content and involvement with the team.
One of the first examples and still among the best was CNN’s partnership with Facebook on Inauguration Day. We were watching, participating, sharing, interacting. I recently saw an application from The Morphic Group done for the Indianapolis 500. It lets viewers control the cameras covering the race from their desktop. They can even take control of cameras inside the racers’ cars and match drivers against one another on their computer screen. Way back when we did one of the very first experiments with our Trash Talk Superbowl event. But where else can these combinations of media work?
Applications and utilities
Some of the most creative ideas are part message, part meme, part distribution. The green avatar started a mini-trend on Twitter that led to the Mad Men avatars and then the Live Strong bracelet. But a few lines of code and Twitter’s API enabled this multi-purpose form of communication. We’re now seeing the same kind of thing with Firefox add-ons. As there are more of these done, the bar will get raised. Both a challenge and an opportunity for anyone who likes to be creative.
Inventive uses of a platform
It’s common to see Facebook look more and more like a website, with built in utility, product demonstration, embedded video. But when Boone Oakley (below) executed a website on YouTube, it felt fresh. Maybe a little gimmicky and perhaps with some shortcomings, but it got attention and traffic, deservedly so. On Twitter, we’re seeing people use the platform as a means of achieving a creative idea. Not simply to connect and communicate, but to create.
I’m identifying other categories – redefining entertainment, digital infotainment, analog actions, propagation techniques, and of course crowdsourcing content – and searching for great examples, along with trying to get my clients to experiment with all of these things.
In the meantime, I hope you’ll share what you’ve discovered. I’ll be back to this topic again soon, ideally with some of your ideas as part of the report. So, got anything? If so, please leave a comment. And, as always, if you like what you see here, consider subscribing. There’s an RSS button at the top right and an email option as well.