The "social" side of social media is well understood. People love to brag, chatter, play, argue, insult, join, like, chat, save the environment, and enter for a chance to win an iPhone. But, the media side of the equation is still poorly understood, and remains speculative terrain.
There are thousands of company pages out there with only a few dozen to a few hundred fans. The "Splinternet" has become noisy beyond most people's wildest imaginings. The new definition of "viral video" is a measly 5,000 views, with over 30 billion videos served up in May 2010. It remains a serious problem as to how to gain media traction commensurate with significant creative budgets.
The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC, Canada's largest bank) has recently put all the pieces together, with the central driver being green. If this technique works, we could be looking at a recipe for significant and historic social media success. First, though, a run-down of the things we've learned from social media in the past two years: a checklist which Royal Bank has obviously heeded with this campaign.
1) As the Obama campaign and Causes taught us, people do engage when social change is on the line.
2) Users are more likely to click a banner image if there's a play button attached, even if pressing it doesn't initiate an actual video (again, from Obama's incredibly high conversion in his opt-in email campaigns).
3) The best way to gain street cred/views for a video is to have users share the video. 4) You don't have to limit yourself to a single siloed media property, now that some of the big guns (Microsoft, Google, Facebook) are playing together.
Below is the illustration of RBC's ad for its Blue Water Project, appearing prominently on msn.ca (the Canadian version of msn.com). Surprisingly, when you click the banner, a message appears saying "You must log in to share 'Check out the RBC Blue Water Project on YouTube' with your friends." I'm suddenly being told that the only way I can watch this, is if I share the video with my friends on Facebook !
Curious about how it works, I reluctantly signed into my Facebook account and provided the appropriate permissions.
After going through this process, a YouTube link to the video is posted to my profile's news feed. Incidentally, I've saved our loyal readers the hassle. You should be able to watch the video here.
RBC has turned interruptive media on its head with this initiative. The only way I'm "permitted" to watch its commercial is if I share with a few hundred people. RBC is putting its money on green as the driving incentive for this whole process.
RBC requires a share, hence increasing potential viewership. Green acts as the incentive coupled with an engaging high-production-value, environmental stewardship information message. Could this bold "share wall" tactic be the missing ingredient for social media reach? Will other companies jump in with extremely high creative budgets, producing National Geographic-quality documentaries instead of 30-second spots? Will green remain an engaging-enough incentive?
Obviously, time will tell, and I will do my best to track the success of this campaign. I'm very interested in hearing what readers think. Could high production value green content combined with "share walls" prove to be a successful tactic? Or will this be a one-off or even a flop?