A few Fridays back, I was in Brooklyn, NY wearing a VR headset while standing on a motion-powered surfboard. I had 360 degree views of a beautiful beach, while in reality, my body was in a barn decorated with white string lights: The Brooklyn Brewery. Innovation was the topic of the week at the Northside Festival – and boy, was it prevalent. In a few short hours, I was exposed to new technology and innovative social marketing ideas. Check out the top three things I learned at the festival!
1. Get People To Stop Scrolling
As a millennial myself, I know how quickly I scroll through my social media feeds. The challenge for marketers is to create thumb-stopping content that makes us pause our speedy scrolling. TIME Magazine has done just that.
D.W. Pine, the Creative Director, revealed his team’s process of making a magazine cover and how they transform it to fit well on their social platforms, specifically Instagram. One day, the magazine cover is a painting, the next it’s a GIF filled with engaging motions. He specifically referenced artist Tim O’Brien and his work on the Trump Chaos cover. Another two examples were of the Uber Fail and The Weight Loss Trap. Now, that’s innovative.
2. Make Brave Work. Dare To Be Different.
Droga5 and MailChimp paired up in 2016 to launch a campaign that transformed the MailChimp brand. Going into the speaker session, I had seen their print ads in subways and an article about them on AdWeek. My initial impression was that it was strange, but intriguing.
The campaign consists of a play on the words “MailChimp,” for example, “KaleLimp” and “NailChamp“. Upon looking at the idea more closely, I realized it had legs and could go in many different directions!
During the panel, Julian Cheevers, Executive Group Director for Droga5, and Mark DiCristina, Senior Director of Brand Marketing for MailChimp, talked about their companies’ pairing and how they came up with this campaign. They described it as simply being in a room with smart people challenging each other. Everyone there was passionate about doing something out of the box and had a tolerance for weirdness. They mentioned how this idea could have failed since it was so out there, but that taking risks makes a company better, and this idea felt so on brand for them. Check out one of their wacky spots here. If that wasn’t crazy enough for you, look at “Male Crimp,” which they introduced for men’s fashion week.
3. Beating Actual Human Connection is Likely Impossible
In the “dream bucket” of BuzzFeed’s goals exists something along the lines of “Build a stronger connection between BuzzFeed and a consumer than the consumer has with his or her friends.” This isn’t word for word what Chris Tindal, Senior Product Manager at BuzzFeed, said, but it was an idea he toyed with during a panel called “Human-Centered Design for Future Needs” at Northside.
However, he shot down this goal and said that it’s not possible— media can never be closer than the social interaction of two friends. While this may be true, I do believe they’re doing a great job at getting pretty darn close to that social interaction – perhaps more than any other outlet targeting millennials right now.
Every day, I can count on a friend tagging me in a BuzzFeed post, including, but not limited to a yummy Tasty video, a goofy quiz or a very important article like how to switch up my toppings on avocado toast. These posts have become a part of my friendships. Sometimes, we even talk about BuzzFeed like it’s our friend. For example, “This weekend, BuzzFeed told me Ryan Reynolds and I would be perfect together.” I could easily substitute a friend’s name into those sentences. BuzzFeed is like a third friend that connects you to your best friend. We became so close and I wasn’t even aware of it!
Before attending the Northside Festival, I thought, as a 20-year-old, I was “in the know” in regards to technology and innovation. However, I was blown away by my findings. Now, with a better understanding of the strategy behind a campaign, like MailChimp’s, and a company’s social media presence, like TIME and BuzzFeed’s, I consume media with a greater awareness of the marketer’s goals.