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Going viral - how universities can create (and contain) popular content - #UAMCD

Universities Australia Marketing, Communications and Development Conference 2013
by

Cameron Pegg

on 14 October 2013

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Transcript of Going viral - how universities can create (and contain) popular content - #UAMCD

Pope Francis makes his first public appearance
Taken at my
gym in front of
an exercise bike
Summing up the world we live in:

Mobile
Multi-screen
Always on
How might we define virality in a #highered context?
Attracting 10,792 notes on a Tumblr post
Generating 1,118 comments and 2015 “points” on a reddit AMA
Raising $6.8 million online in 24 hours from your alumni and community
Registering 7,096,098 views for a YouTube video
Attracting 54,382 signatures on an online petition
We need to move from a “banner” marketing approach (static, broadcast), to a modular content approach which is interactive, shareable and mobile

Embrace the new rules of content
The empowered consumer will bypass or ignore communications that aren’t relevant and don’t add value to their lives

Content must provide entertainment, education or utility

In short, universities need to lose the campaign mentality when planning and distributing content


Source: http://www.fastcocreate.com/3017868/the-10-commandments-of-content
But first, some context...
Source: http://tomfishburne.com/2012/03/go-viral.html

Attracting 10,792 notes on a Tumblr post
Generating 1,118 comments and 2015 “points” on a reddit AMA
Registering 7,104,307 views for a YouTube video
Attracting 54,382 signatures on an online petition
Viral marketing pre-dates digital...
Ronald Reagan successfully employed viral marketing in the 1960s against the proposed National Health Insurance System, now known as Medicare.

Dubbed “Operation Coffee Cup”, Reagan mass produced an LP record capturing his claims, and sent copies to the ladies auxiliary of the American Medical Association. The call-to-action was to invite friends over to listen the messages, and then write personalised letters to their Senators and Congressmen opposing the plan. Many did just that.

Any fans of The Oatmeal in the audience?
A viral content model that makes sense for #highered
Jonah Berger and Katherine Milkman published "What Makes Online Content Viral?" in the Journal of Marketing Research in 2012. Their parameters:

Study of “most emailed” NYT stories (2008-9)
7,500 different articles sampled
Each article rated as positive or negative


Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/09/science/09tier.html
PLEASE TAKE OUT YOUR PHONES!
Interactive poll

Which emotion was shown to be the strongest driver of content sharing in the Berger and Milkman study?

Anxiety
Anger
Amusement
Awe
Polling results: http://emobilise.com.au/polls/results/133#result1
People preferred e-mailing articles with positive rather than negative themes, and they liked to send long articles on intellectually challenging topics
In fact, the power of awe was so overwhelming that one type of article outperformed the others…
Science articles...


“We anticipated that people would share articles with practical information about health or gadgets, and they did, but they also sent articles about paleontology and cosmology. You’d see articles shooting up the list that were about the optics of deer vision” – study researchers




In other words, we need less stories about the latest university rankings, and more on peacock spiders and fire tornadoes…

The traits of viral content
According to Berger and Milkman's research these are:

Surprising
Interesting
Intense (potentially awe inspiring)
Positive
Actionable


Source: http://www.fastcocreate.com/3017868/the-10-commandments-of-content


“If I’ve just read this story that changes the way I understand the world and myself, I want to talk to others about what it means. I want to proselytize and share the feeling of awe. If you read the article and feel the same emotion, it will bring us closer together” – Jonah Berger






"Emotional communion" is facilitated by sharing
Changing the dynamic - aim to engage
What might viral mean in a #highered context?
This spider is smaller than your thumbnail...
A rare natural phenomenon caught on film...
Case study - Cornell and reddit
The Cornell University Ask an Astronomer team conducted an "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) session on reddit in July
Madonna and former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd are among those to conduct AMAs in recent months
AMAs allow users to post questions, with the "OP" (operator) choosing which ones to answer
The content generated is then voted on using reddit's "up/down" rankings system. The more upvotes, the higher the score, meaning your post is seen by more users
Reddit and forums like it incubate viral content
Case study - Cornell and reddit
Case study - Cornell and reddit
Using news values as a predictor of virality
Conflict
Proximity
Currency
Prominence
The Unusual
Timeliness
Impact
Human Interest

When was the last time you planned and prioritised
your media releases in terms of news values rather
than corporate messaging?
Beer, sex and head lice always sell...
One of my
proudest professional moments...
From this
To this
Best practice newsjacking - Oreo
How are you selling your physics program?
This was organised at Department level. How much of this kind of content is invisible to a central marketing office?
If a bank can do it, a university certainly can!
Newsjacking
“The act of redirecting the momentum from breaking news into your company’s favour by injecting a fresh perspective in real time”

Newsjacking case study - CSIRO
Earlier this year, CSIRO staff planned a media campaign around their robotics research lab to coincide with the annual "May the Fourth Be With You" day, otherwise known as Star Wars Day.

Media releases, blog posts, images and video were created to capitalise on the media interest in the day. More than 430,000 impressions were generated by 165 tweets promoting CSIRO's robotics work. Major news orgs and prominent journalists helped seed this activity.
Newsjacking case study - CSIRO
Source: http://www.csiro.au/Portals/Media/May-the-fourth-be-with-the-bots.aspx

Timeliness is crucial
Not a coincidence...
Design-driven newsjacking - infographics
“People love them. That’s all you need to know. They devour them. They rave about them. They save them. They actually collect them. Most importantly, they share them.”

Source: http://socialmediatoday.com/feldmancreative/1697881/most-important-thing-you-need-know-about-infographics?utm_source=buffer&utm_campaign=Buffer&utm_content=buffer61d2f&utm_medium=linkedin

When done well, infographics:
• Demonstrate expertise on your topic
• Stand out amongst other messaging formats
given 90% of information enters your brain visually
• Help visualise statistics for easy understanding
• Often go viral—or at the very least—are readily shared
• Get increased mileage when you provide code to embed
• Encourage links back to your site
• Help heighten brand awareness


Source: http://socialmediatoday.com/feldmancreative/1697881/most-important-thing-you-need-know-about-infographics?utm_source=buffer&utm_campaign=Buffer&utm_content=buffer61d2f&utm_medium=linkedin

The eight infographic types:

Visual article
Flow chart
Useful bait
Number porn
The timeline
Data visualisation
“Vs”
Photo infographic

Design-driven newsjacking - infographics
Infographics case study - Yale (Tumblr)
Infographics case study - McMaster University
Released during #london2012
Linguistics can be awe-inspiring...
Translating research into infographics makes sense
• Encourage collaboration between academics and your design,
web and marcomms staff - perhaps set a weekly challenge

• Given the viral potential of infographics, the ROI (or "half-life") is
much higher than conventional "static" content. Infographics are
also less time consuming to produce than video

• How will your university quantify the engagement
outcomes expected for ERA 2015?

• Use news values to determine your strongest research
stories then create an infographic to match

Check out - http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail








Experimenting with viral content means embracing risk, but also receiving new rewards

Can you imagine this as your homepage?
Oberlin College in Ohio took over their homepage on April Fools Day in 2012 with a cheeky animated homage to their unofficial campus mascot, an albino squirrel (the design referenced a viral Japanese video from 2011). The longer you watched the squirrel, the more points you received. Visitors were able to then share this "score" via Twitter.

Source: https://oncampus.oberlin.edu/webteam/2012/04/nyayn-squirrel-social-breakdown

700% increase in daily page views
84% of traffic from new visitors (almost 50% of all traffic via a reddit thread)
Almost 7000 return viewers
43 second average visit
The squirrel factor
Making the most of unplanned content
The University of Chicago received this package in 2012, addressed to "Henry Walton Jones, Jr."

They asked for help via their Admissions Tumblr account to solve the mystery
"Internet: help us out. If you’re on Reddit (we’re not) or any other nerdly social media sites where we might get information about this, feel free to post far and wide and e-mail any answers, clues, ideas, thoughts, or musings to indianajonesjournal@uchicago.edu (yes, we did set up an email account just to deal with this thing)"
Indiana Jones and the Viral Tumblr Hit
Who knew so many college mascots were tigers? The most popular animal mascot? The eagle.
For the record, the Webster University Gorlock is a mythical creature with the paws of
a cheetah, the horns of a buffalo, and the face of a Saint Bernard (created by a competition
in 1984)
Full infographic: http://www.fastcodesign.com/1672303/infographic-an-amazing-map-of-every-college-mascot
10,894 notes/shares later...
After setting up a special email account and blog to gather information, the University announced to the world three months later that it had solved the mystery with these words...
Indiana Jones and the Viral Tumblr Hit
Authenticity (and a sense of humour) go a long way on corporate social media accounts
The Indiana Jones case study shows us the value of using content created by others to achieve viral success for your brand. You need to have mechanisms in place to ensure you do not miss out on potential viral content that is being gathered or created elsewhere (internally and externally).
Scanning for serendipitous content
Replicating "found" content to promote your brand
In 2012, Yale promoted the viral success of a video showcasing their alumni performing a choral version of "Call Me Maybe" on campus.

An earlier lip dub of the song by retailer Abercrombie & Fitch has achieved 20+ million views...



Source: http://news.yale.edu/videos/call-me-maybe-adapted-two-yale-alums

The Australian Voices, a small vocal ensemble based in Brisbane, is one of the nation’s best choirs.

They’ve also proven to be adept viral marketers, having created a series of bespoke songs and videos which have attracted 1.5 million views on YouTube.

A little closer to home...
Artistic Director Gordon Hamilton composed “Toy Story 3 = Awesome” in 2011.

This was followed by “Tra$h Ma$h” (a mashup of Top 40 songs), and earlier this year, “9 Cutest Things That Ever Happened” (inspired by animal memes).

Case study - The Australian Voices
The distribution strategy for the 9 Cutest Things That Ever Happened video (1.2 million + views) included contacting influential bloggers who specialise in “cute” content. This included posting to Buzzfeed, who had published the original "50 Cutest Things" that had inspired the song.

The majority of The Australian Voices’ repertoire (and YouTube videos) showcase serious, technically demanding choral music. The viral songs have allowed the choir to drastically increase its reach and build its brand overseas without compromising its reputation as an award-winning acapella ensemble.


Case study - The Australian Voices

Of course, not all viral content relating to your brand is positive.







Dealing with negative viral content
Before and after images taken at a Louisiana State University football game in 2012
WHAT'S MISSING?

Painted crosses Photoshopped out
Case study - Louisiana State University
Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/22/lsu-crosses-airbrush-photoshop_n_2003097.html
Case study - University of California rebrand
In 2012, the University of California created a new "monogram" to complement the existing seal, which had underpinned UC branding since 1868.

Students and alumni were not happy with the move, and took to social media to deride the decision. Many thought the seal would be replaced.
"You cannot escape social media. In the University of California’s case, a Facebook campaign launched by a few angry graduates six months after the logo’s introduction was almost solely responsible for its demise. Had the university used social media to engage students and alumni from the outset, involve them in the branding conversation, and communicate its motives for undertaking the project, the end result may have been quite different"





Case study - University of California rebrand
Source: http://thebuildnetwork.com/leadership/uc-logo-design/
Initially, University management stood their ground, and tried to justify the design approach. With online outrage growing, one student decided to set up a petition on change.org to scrap the new look. It generated 54,000 signatures before the University decided it would discontinue the rebrand.




Case study - University of California rebrand
Source: http://www.change.org/petitions/university-of-california-stop-the-new-uc-logo
Being on the receiving end of negative viral activity reminds us that consumers are not only curators of content, but publishers as well


Active monitoring has never been more important. Early intervention could help defuse the situation and limit the damage

Own up – be transparent, timely and accurate in your responses to negative viral content about your brand. DO NOT become combative

In most instances, trying to weather a viral storm by remaining silent will not work

Take over your homepage if you have to; do not bury a response or apology



How to handle negative viral content
Research survey - viral content trends in #highered
Research survey - viral content trends in #highered
Research survey - viral content trends in #highered
Research survey - viral content trends in #highered
Research survey - viral content trends in #highered
Research survey - viral content trends in #highered
In the last three months I have conducted an online survey among highered colleagues to gauge their views and experiences with viral marketing.

The questions looked at the type of viral content which is currently being produced, the strategies behind it and the platforms used for distribution; attempted to establish a realistic baseline for viral uptake; and looked at internal obstacles to greater adoption of this content.

Sample = 52 (not all respondents answered all questions)






Research survey - in summary
Most respondents have used text OR video in their most recent viral execution
The majority of respondents think video is the type of content most likely to go viral
53.3% had <1000 total interactions with their latest viral execution
The most commonly cited obstacles are: deemed too risky by senior/executive staff (31.6%) and inadequate resourcing (staff and financial - 26.3%)
60.5% say their competitors are harnessing viral content
56.4% say they intend to include viral executions in their marcomms mix in the next year






Designers Jen McLeod, Dou Ribu and Tina Reed

For interviews, case studies and survey assistance: Julie Blakey, Chris Byrne, Daniel Chamberlain, Johnny Cheng, Georgy Cohen, Janna Crabb, Scott Griffin, Bob Johnson, Ma’ayan Plaut, Tracy Playle, Deborah Roberts, Rhys Stacker and Justin Ware
Actually, it can't wait...
Source: http://blog.eloqua.com/what-is-newsjacking/

Sourece: http://blog.maptia.com/posts/untranslatable-words-from-other-cultures
Source: http://uchicagoadmissions.tumblr.com/post/37809971913/indiana-jones-mystery-package-we-dont-really

PLEASE TAKE OUT YOUR PHONES!
Interactive poll

What are your initial thoughts about the use of viral marketing in the higher education sector?

Great
Viral can be fun, but you can't plan/predict the results
Not applicable to our products and services
A can of worms - don't go there
The world needs more Grumpy Cat memes
Polling results: http://emobilise.com.au/polls/results/133
A taste of things to come...
Newsjacking
Source: http://blog.eloqua.com/what-is-newsjacking/

Where to from here? How might you develop a viral content culture at your university?
Infographic created by Dou Ribu and Cameron Pegg
Questions or comments?
@ghostwhowrites
c.pegg@griffith.edu.au
http://linkd.in/IkGKny
Full transcript