BBC’s #socialmedia whatstrending conference

A group of Computerlovers recently went along to the #socialmediawhatstrending conference, hosted by the BBC Academy’s College of Journalism at MediaCityUK.

Here are a few thoughts from the day:

Stef, Creative Director:

“For me, the most interesting insights to come out of the conference were around branded content and mobile.

Ravi Matharu, one of the viral brains behind Red Bull Stratos, talked about Red Bull as a ‘social/digital’ publisher, and the fact that he advises client to invest two-thirds of their budget in producing amazing content. While Thom Gulseven, Senior Online Producer for Channel 4, remarked that they need to have an “always-on” approach to social media, even when the programme’s they’re promoting are off air.

Ben Cooper, BBC Radio 1 controller, also highlighted the importance of the quality content, citing the need to provide your audience with the all-important ‘OMG’, ‘LOL’ or ‘WTF’ factor. Importantly, he also connected the dots between younger audiences and mobile phones, stating that it’s essential to place content in their hands in order to be be successful. James Cooper, Senior Interactive Producer for The X Factor, also supported this, citing the fact that they’ve seen a steady increase in users accessing their digital content via the mobile app.

Finally, there was lots of chat about rewarding the viewer with the quality of content you produce, using this to cultivate brand love, and realising that you need to give something back to consumers in return for them sharing your marketing experience and messages.

All in all, some thought-provoking new ideas — but also lots of validation.”

Molly, Content Writer:

“The key takeaway of the day for me was a reminder that social media provides endless opportunities to add real value — something that’s equally true whether you’re talking about a TV programme or a brand campaign.

I especially enjoyed Ben Cooper’s presentation on how radio has had to adapt to stay relevant to what he referred to as the ‘head down’ generation; Radio 1’s online visual content (whether that’s parody videos, exclusive interviews or in-studio footage) plays an increasingly vital role in keeping the mobile-savvy audience’s engaged.

He also emphasised the importance of properly getting to know your audience, something they’re able to achieve at Radio 1Xtra by regularly inviting young people to contribute their ideas through an internship programme.

Most lively discussion of the day definitely goes to Ravi Mathura and Chris Quigley, Managing Director of VAN, who explored whether there’s a formula for viral success. Although both work in very similar fields, they displayed very different attitudes: Ravi believes that “the best campaigns are rooted in product truth”, while Chris takes the view that “Viral is about human truths, not brand truths”. But both made valid points we’ll certainly be able to apply the next time a client ask us to ‘make it viral’.”

Joanna, Marketing Executive:

“My role at Code is quite content focussed, so I found the ‘Content visualisation: from radio to multimedia’ session really interesting.

The key learnings for me were to be selective (and strategic) when it comes to choosing what content opportunities to invest time into, and to recognise that sometimes you have to be willing and ready to respond quickly to topical opportunities in order to stay relevant.

James Everton (The Hits Radio) talked to us about the successes of setting up a live web cam in the studio, whilst Joe Harland, Head of Visualisation at BBC Radio 1, discussed using YouTube to increase the reach and longevity of content (interviews, ‘Live Lounges’, etc.).

One example he mentioned was the now-infamous Kanye West interview conducted by Zane Lowe; the team quickly recognised the opportunity for continued impact and broke the video down into four parts, which has generated a combined four million views to date — reaching more people than it ever could have if they’d just stuck with the live streaming format. Likewise, when Miley Cyrus released the controversial video for ‘Wrecking Ball’, they knew they only had a small window of opportunity to turn around their own parody (currently at over three million views) before someone else jumped on the bandwagon.

Sometimes it’s the stuff that can’t be planned for that drives the highest levels of engagement, but to reap the benefits you have to be ready to respond quickly (as Joe said, “It’s better to be never than late”), and more importantly, be able to recognise the right kind of opportunities for your brand.”

Sophie, Planner:

“The most interesting session of the conference for me was: ‘Memes under the microscope: Is there a formula for viral success?’ as the two speakers adopted opposing views which caused heated debate amongst the attendees.

Whilst Ravi Matharu believes in dedicating years to creating brand communities and engaging them with videos that perfectly reflect the brand essence, Chris Quigley advocated throwing out the brand strategy and simply creating short-lived content that audiences would love.

Who was right? Although Computerlover opinions were split, I personally agree with the former (although as a Planner, maybe I would say that!).”