Custom Digital Marketing, Social & Interactive Media Consulting

Hunger Gaming for iMedia Gangnam Style

This may be over-simplifying things a bit, but there seems to be two opposing yet effective schools of thought when it comes to iMedia, in particular utilization of social media:

  • The ‘Gangnam Style’ school of thought, generally referred to as viral marketing. The idea being to catch lighting in a bottle, have your content ‘go viral’ and ride that attention as long as you can, using it as a springboard to launch further efforts

With The Hunger Games (THG) approach, there is (obviously) a greater amount of control. Under the THG approach, organizations take an active role in shaping the conversation and the arena where the conversation takes place. When an organization is active in the process, the odds that positive results will be realized, and be measureable, are greatly increased.

Another part of the THG approach is planning – extensive planning. Determining and analyzing your audience, defining the overall objective of the strategy as well as specific goals you hope to attain, planning your content in some form of an editorial calendar, determining what (and how) you are going to measure and track to determine what works vs. what doesn’t – all are things that have to be considered and accounted for under the THG approach. The upside being that going in with clear goals, defined objectives, a content schedule and a plan to track and measure success/ROI, you can structure the conversation in such a way to increase the odds of success. In short, as the saying goes – if you fail to plan, plan to fail.

The drawback to the THG school of thought is that it is resource-intensive. Going through the process of planning, implementing, measuring, tweaking and executing your social plan takes time – time you have to be willing to spend to make sure you do your social plan effectively. As I have always said, iMedia used ineffectively and incorrectly can be just as damaging as not using it at all, so be sure to invest the necessary time to effectively execute the THG approach.

Aside from the time investment, to successfully execute the THG approach, it takes (to borrow a line from Liam Neeson’s character in Taken), “a very particular set of skills.” A deep knowledge and understanding of the social space – the platforms involved, how to effectively leverage each tool to maximize the benefits – is critical to giving your execution of the THG approach the best odds of success.

Even executing the THG approach, with all the planning and scheduling and crafting, there is one catch – you cannot control 100% of what goes on in the social space. The nature of iMedia and social media is right there in their names – it’s interactive and social. But playing that active role, having plans in place for executing your social efforts, even having crisis management protocol in place is essential. Going into the social space prepared, having a clear plan and clear vision for what you want to achieve and how you are going to achieve it, exponentially increases your odds of positive results and greater ROI.

On the flip side, there is the ‘Gangnam Style’ (GS) school of thought. Often talked about in terms of getting something to go “viral,” the idea is to catch lightning in a bottle, create a piece of content that is instantly spreadable and sticky – people are apt to share it and people remember it. Much like the song Gangnam Style from Korean artist PSY, following the GS school of thought means implementing content that is catchy, people want to share it, and it crosses cultural/socio-economic/geographic borders (appeals to and can be appreciated by a wide and varied audience).

The upside to the GS school of thought is that it’s the social space itself that essentially does the marketing and promotion for you. It is the members of the online community that share your content and link to it, spreading it around and expanding your content’s reach. If your content happens to find itself at the intersection of “spreadability” and “stickiness,” at the corner of pop culture and the societal zeitgeist, you’ve hit the Internet jackpot – views, hits, visits, links, mentions and retweets will come in fast and furious, possibly alongside main stream media mentions. The buzz and excitement that is generated around you and your thing is something that cannot be bought, and you can ride that wave to limitless possibilities. If (and that is a big if) you can catch the lighting, the recognition/awareness factor is exponential.

The drawback is it is extremely hard to pull off. It is nearly impossible to know the mix of ingredients that will make a successful GS school of thought strategy. As much as some social media ‘gurus’ like to tell you there is a universal formula for the GS school of thought strategy, there really isn’t. You can examine content that has gone viral, pick up some common elements, get a rough outline of GS suggestions, but that is likely about as close as you can get. Try too hard, plugging your content into a viral formula, trying to create that lighting in the bottle instead of catching it, and the social space will see right through your fabrication efforts.

The best GS-based strategies are no strategies at all. They happen organically, they happen naturally. You put your content out there and set it free. Whether it goes “gangnam” or not is up to your target clientele, the audience and the social community as a whole.

The Hunger Games style vs. Gangnam Style – the choice is yours. Meticulously plan, measure, schedule and construct each piece of your strategy or do something a little bit off-the-wall and wait to see what happens. Mix them both or do nothing at all for that matter. No matter what, the power and reach of social and iMedia must be leveraged in some way, shape or form so as to not get left behind in the race for more customers and ultimately more revenue. But, it must be done properly or you may end up doing more harm than good.