Brands have invested in creating high quality content that resonates with consumers, but in the social age, it can be difficult for brands to own their conversation. Content takes on its own life as it spreads across social media channels, morphing and twisting with consumer input.
Gone are the days when consumers leaned back to receive branded messages. They now lean forward to interact with and shape a brand’s communication. Brands who leave room for their story to grow can help steer the narrative rather than react to it.
Toshiba and Intel have won praise for their Inside film series, social films with narratives requiring active fan contribution. The third installment of the series, The Power Inside, asked fans to audition for roles in the movie, and the film’s story arc was designed to change based on participation. The launch of the first installment “The Inside Experience” in 2011 was groundbreaking— this social film was an entirely new concept. The campaign received 7.2 million views online, but increased positive brand opinion of both Intel and Toshiba by seven percent and five percent respectively. Toshiba also saw a double-digit percent increase in weekly laptop sales during the campaign, and purchase consideration for Intel rose eight percent. Intel and Toshiba built on the first campaign’s success, and in 2013, the third installment, The Power Inside, received more than 51 million views.
Similarly, Samsung created Football Will Save the Planet, a fluid digital campaign for the Galaxy 11 that pits human soccer players against invading aliens. For the campaign, Samsung assembled a team of 13 of the most renowned soccer players, each from a different country. The campaign was revealed in a series of videos, introducing each team member one by one. As each Galaxy 11 team member was unveiled, fans around the world responded with their input on how to assemble the best team and what the team’s strategy should be to defeat the aliens. In fact, the Galaxy team was originally supposed to have only 11 members, but fan interest was so strong that Samsung added two additional members to complete the story. The videos have generated more than 28 million views. Millions of fans from 250 countries have spent nearly 100,000 hours visiting the site. A third of those visits are from mobile devices, and two-thirds are referred from social media. The press has embraced it as a blend between marketing and news, generating a billion earned impressions. And because the Galaxy 11 content is so rich and valuable, Samsung is now using it as a TV spot in several local markets, bringing the story full circle.
Essentially with both campaigns, the brands created outlines for their narratives, but left enough of the storyline open so fans could feel they were a part of the action. Instead of attempting to control the story, The Power Inside and Football Will Save the Planet embraced the fluidity of social media, letting fan input evolve the content. This is not the same as brands sitting back and letting consumers drive the story; the brands were always one step ahead of the story, with enough knowledge about their audience to anticipate the next move.