Internet and New Media: The Digital Highway to Growth
This panel, on day one of the World Yacht Racing Forum, 2011 featured: Wolf Allisat, Executive Vice President, Europe, Comscore, Tristan Wood, CEO, Livewire Digital, David Fuller, CEO Pilote Media and Dan Griffey, Digital and Creative Director, Slipstream.
[cleeng_content id="305882449" description="99 cents or 10,000 hours. Become an expert for less than a dollar. We do the hard work so you don't have to." price="0.99" referral="0.10"]The session was designed to talk about how digital can help grow the sport of sailing, not just through the fashions of social media, but looking more widely at changes in digital technology including television
It’s all very well to aquire a lot of content, but one of the biggest challenges as getting that content out to the wider world – especially to TV…
Well it doesn’t matter where you are putting your content – be it social media or TV, it has to be good content. It has to be relevant content and you have to be able to connect your network, inshore or out at sea and deliver that content.
If somebody says “I want to go live on the 10 o’clock news on the BBC, that’s vast exposure – not just on the TV, but also on their website – so if you have the technology that allows you to say – I’m going to put my guy, live on the news that’s great, but it might be one of the areas that has been missed. It’s great to have lots of cameras on board, but somehow you have to interface it to the rest of the world and often thats where things go wrong.
There are many ways to do it though annd there have been changes. From budgets of multiple millions to more basic output – every commercial series has started pushing this content out.
In terms of strategies, if you are going to produce content that is suitable for the HD TV world, you can always push it onto other formats and markets. If you want to stream it onto the internet – fine, you can downscale it and send it there. If you start with something that is low-res and you try to provide that to someone like Sky, they are not going to touch it. So if you start with the best quality and fulfil all the technical requirements they have, then you can still satisfy all the rest.
Having the right people is also important. Having the sailors in the right place is obviously key, but you also need people to ask the right questions. Producers and other people can turn content into something that is actually relevant for an audience and will engage them. Faces are important. Not just boats.
You work with a lot of rights holders, teams actually doing it! Making Facebook pages, making apps. How are those activities helping those clients?
Well thats an interesting point. It depends on the client and whether they have a direct to consumer relationship or whether they are a rights holder or a team where you are not neccesarily selling a product. In most cases in sailing, you are not using a Facebook page to sell tickets to an event, but at the end of the day when our clients are trying to break it down and look at ROI – what are they measuring?
You’ve done us a favour, by turning facebook likes into a competition, but Likes is a basic metric that we can all talk about because it is public, but slightly wider and slightly more adopted in tech brands especially is a metric called ‘experiences’.
One of the things we don’t have anymore is a single point of touch for all our customers. We have multiple places where people can see our brand. How do we see those experiences and how do we count them? How do we as a team or a rights holder gather all those things together and say ‘we are reaching a million people with our experience’.
There is a little bit of coaching involved. A few hands went up when we asked the audience who has full time people working on social media. The experiece needs to be kept consistent and a word we use a lot is canonical – can the people get the same experience everywhere? So take the start of the Volvo Ocean Race from Capetown – some people were watching on the website, some people were watching on ‘Livestream’ – some people were chatting on Facebook – but how do we bring those all together and get a big number out of them, so we can go back to our sponsors and say we are touching a million, or a billion people.
I am a big believer in the concept – if you’ve shot it and it is ready, put it up. It adds to the immediacy and the engagement.
The next part is to try and get an email address out of someone. Is it their Facebook email or is it a professional one. In other sports like golf and rugby we are starting to think – can we sell something to them? Can we sell them merchandise, or tickets to an event? Facebook in particular and Google to a certain extent, has a big part to play in that next step because once you have bought something you are also telling others that you have bought it publicly.
What if you don’t have the resource to do it all? How do you make a decision about which one is the best? How do I allocate investment between an iPhone app or a Twitter feed?
That comes down to cost of aquisition. How much do you have to invest to build the product? a lot of people are spending money on apps, but not spending money on their websites, when in fact, the asset that is delivering the most return might be the facebook page or even their website which has been around for the last 10 years.
I’m a simple guy and I would say – what’s working right now, you should go after. Look at all the people who went after MySpace a couple of years ago. They got screwed because it doesn’t exist any more. Facebook works reall well right now – a billion or so people are using it, so you can’t really go wrong.
If you have limited budget, I would definately make sure that Facebook was part of the strategy. I can’t guarantee that is where you should be investing three years down the road, because people might switch to something cooler.
But as well as the stuff that is working, try out some funky stuff. For example Foursquare is about three years old now, so if you had tried that out a couple of years ago you would be at the forefront of location services. So go with the mainstream, but also be adventurous with some of the other things because the cost is pretty low.
Technology doesn’t replace content. The stories that make the news are people like Ellen McArthur – a girl next door sailing around the world and blogging about it.
Social media has shown that there is an audience for sailing. It might be small, but it has shown that there is a latent audience for this content.
That’s true, but it is not getting its share. If you look at golf – some of the players are reaching a tipping point where they can start to sell things and activate their sponsorships.
Part of that is trying to work out who we are talking to. The America’s Cup have tried red button style commentary. The Volvo Ocean Race aren’t able to do that, but they are trying a middle ground, but if you look at just a local market and work out how many people might be interested in sailing, the number is way bigger than the 75,000 that like the Volvo Ocean Race on Facebook, so how do we get to them?
There is an element of discovery through curated engagement. Newspapers are doing this really well on Facebook, but you have to be careful and signal if you are going to switch between topics. You have to manage expectations.
Questions from the Audience.
How do you deal with the large part of the audience who might not have the bandwidth for HD?
I learnt from live comments that were being posted during the start of the Volvo Ocean Race that they use an adaptive bit-rate.
It goes back to the ‘How to follow’ questions – explaining to the user what they are getting and where the source of the content is – HD or perhaps more low-res. It was adaptive bit-rate technology – if you were getting pauses, it should have discovered it and given you a lower grade quality and kept your experience going. Some of the other platforms wouldn’t have done that.
Everyone who works with the internet is so used to being on a high-speed broadband connection that we often forget that 90% of the population isn’t and we have all this cool content that nobody has the patience to watch. So we have to be much more focussed on offering the high bandwidth but make it really clear what people should be using.
How do you apply social media to promote your own companies?
One of the things we try to address from an end-to-end point of view is discovery. If you found Slipstream and you found 1000 likes I would be really pleased because as far as I know, we have about 212. There are some definitional issues. Some people use the world sailing, this is the World Yacht Racing Forum – offshore racing was also brought up.
My answer is that I don’t actively promote my company via social media. I promote myself via Twitter and the sailing news site does have a Facebook page, but it is not called yachtracing.biz – having said that, we are very aggressive on SEO and organic search, so we rank for long-tail phrases in Google. So most of our traffic doesn’t come from social media, it comes from people who search in Google.
Same for us. Most people in the business know us on Twitter. But SEO and a good content strategy that allows people to find us through Google is a focus.
What’s the next Facebook? Is Location the next big thing?
If I knew I wouldn’t be sitting here. If you were to have asked me 3 years ago if Groupon would be big, I would have said take the 6 billion that you got offered and run, but they didn’t and now it is worth 12 billion. Will Groupon decline – personally I think so.
Location is still in its infancy because people are a bit spooked out by the fact that you can be tracked so closely and it still has about two years to go to become really popular, but this year is the year of mobile.
Let’s have one idea from all of you to take our businesses forward.
Focus on a story. Local or international. Something that you can base your whole strategy around.
That’s a great one, but two more – one is location. I think it is going to be big. It adds to the relevance filter of what’s available to you and can be used to start to push tickets or merchandising, so if you haven’t educated yourself about Foursquare – go and educate yourself about it. But don’t forget your owned media – plan for what you do if Facebook doesn’t exist – what happens to your 75,000 fans? Try now to move them to something else as well.
We talked a lot about personalities last year at this conference, but we haven’t managed to promote a sailor using Social media. The most liked sailor as an individual is Jessica Watson if you don’t count Jack Sparrow! So pick a star and create a posterchild for the sport – no one has done that yet.