People at South by Southwest find themselves surrounded by “digital celebrities” – the bloggers we all know and read, journalists with Twitter followings in the thousands, authors of books that aim to change the way we use the Internet. These leaders in social media and the digital world, and more importantly, their vast networks and following, can be the key to a successful awareness-building, engagement or media campaign.
It’s all about tapping into a connected community or – as we often tell our clients – meeting people where they are online. By leveraging the power of digital thought leaders and their networks, your organization’s message or call to action can spread like wildfire. Consider the following factors when you engage the online community:
- Engaging a connected audience. Meet people in their online spaces; don’t ask them to come to you. Understand where your audience works, plays and goes online – and meet them there with information or an “ask,” whether it’s through a leading blog, Twitter conversation or engaging a digital leader as a champion.
- Leveraging a timely hook. SxSW is an ideal example, but consider other convenings of like-minded individuals (digital or industry-based – TED and NTEN come to mind), where your audience is already connected to online conversations about the issue. This ensures that your user engagement remains timely and action-oriented.
- Creating an easy “ask.” By tapping into a digitally connected audience, you open up to some very easy initial “asks” (i.e. just open your iPhone and tweet about us!). You don’t need to require your audience to do any heavy lifting (digital or literal) to begin to build a relationship and promote your cause.
The key to these strategies is driving conversation to spark action. Whether your goal is raising money, attracting Twitter followers or seeking media coverage, it all starts with engaging your audience – and influencers in your space – to generate conversation about the issue. For an example of our work with the Pepsi Refresh Project, check out our Pepsi Refresh South by Southwest Challenge, an online activation to fund digital ideas that were supported by influencers(@GaryVee, @adamostrow, @ConsumerQueen) at the conference this year.