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T R E N D

R E P O R T

3 2012

Silent Signal


The Silent Signal trend report discusses the digital revolution and the multiplicity of consequences it has for the lives of consumers, companies and media. The report, scheduled to appear three times a year, consists of expert articles by top actors of digitalism, marketing, advertising and communication both from Finland and abroad. The Silent Signal trend report is published by Vapa Media in order to inspire discussion around the central functions of the web and in order to encourage further collective thinking. You are welcome to take part in the conversation on the Facebook page of the report.

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Ida Hakola & Ilona Hiila are the founding partners of content agency Vapa Media and the first heralds of content strategy in Finland. This duo believes that web contents will play an ever-larger role in the success of the web-oriented everyday life of companies. They are also the authors of the first Finnish content strategy book (“Strateginen ote verkkoon”), published in October 2012. Scott Storrs is an independent content strategist. He has helped guide digital and online content for many of the world’s largest organizations since the mid-nineties. Storrs recently left his role as a Senior Content Strategist at AKQA San Francisco, where he helped pioneer and establish the agency’s content practice for over 2-1/2 years. He now splits his time between San Francisco and New York City. Kai Herdin is an expert and a teacher on videos with a past in journalism. Herdin has worked in commercial television companies and in the online world for two decades. Nowadays he is also a partner in the content agency Mrs. Muir & The Ghostwriters. He still thinks that no medium dies in the digital environment but instead develops forward: to become better, more understandable and easier for every consumer. Hilkka Rissanen works as a content strategist at Vapa Media. She has researched digital natives as a part of a research project concerning stakeholder expectations towards media. When it comes to digitalization, she is especially interested in the changes regarding stakeholder engagement and consumption of information.

Sérgio Tavares is a PhD candidate at the University of Jyväskylä (Nordic Digital Culture Network) and content designer at Datafisher. From his view, social media is a fascinating mix of Endemol, Orwell and Huxley and will tell us much more than what we had for breakfast.

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The Birth and the Re-birth of Video Kai Herdin, Mrs. Muir & The Ghostwriters

What’s all this about?

How to Become a Thought Leader? Hilkka Rissanen, Vapa Media Oy

The authors of The Silent Signal trend report 3/2012

Silent Signal, Vol.3 : Understanding Continuity Supports Business Ida Hakola & Ilona Hiila, Vapa Media

The Curious Case of Indelicate Gina SĂŠrgio Tavares, Datafisher Oy

Brand Continuity Scott Storrs, Storrs Creative

About the report and the publisher

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Silent Signal, Vol. 3: Understanding Continuity Supports Business

Ida Hakola, Ilona Hiila Vapa Media Oy

ou are reading the third issue of The Silent Signal trend report. The report, launched in the beginning of 2012, deals with issues of digitalization, media, changing consumerism and the online environment. The report has been well read and warmly welcomed. Our humble thanks for your interest! In previous issues we have talked about content, engagement and the idea of contagious content. In this issue, we take a closer look at the concept of continuity and its importance in brand building, effective communication and gaining the position of a thought leader.

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Continuous communication between companies and customers has always existed. However, after the rise of social media it was in need of some updating. In the companies that use the digital channels, content creation is now divided on many different channels and formats. Instead of big messages and campaigns, companies are communicating with smaller but more continuous messages over multiple channels. The goal is to build service experiences and engaging content practices simultaneously on multiple channels. Only with continuous content creation and communication can companies create favorable reading habits and create meaningful relations.


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When operating in the digital environment, the biggest challenge often is managing the whole mix. The problem doesn’t lie in the channels, but in dividing resources between multiple ones. How can we solve these problems? Independent content strategist Scott Storrs deals with these problems in his article ”Brand Continuity”. His article addresses the importance of continuity in brand stories and how brands can communicate with continuous messages throughout different channels. He points out problems and offers solutions.

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Continuous content can mean something very different than just daily Facebook updates. Using diverse content and multiple formats is becoming more important to companies. In his article ”The Birth and ReBirth of Video”, Kai Herdin discusses the unique qualities of video as a form of communications and content, armed with two decades of experience working with the format. As the technology has developed and become cheaper, consumers have started to produce more video content. According to Herdin, video is growing and gaining im-

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portance: no other format can make use of as many senses – and make the events seem as real and vivid – as video does. That is why companies have also adopted it as a format. Video is a touching format that has the ability to bring a company closer to consumers.

“ Instead of big messages and campaigns companies are communicating with smaller but more continuous messages on multiple channels. ”


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Companies use multiple channels to strengthen their brand and image. They compete over the position of a thought leader and often use content based on their expertise to do so. But what really makes someone a thought leader and what is the role of content in it? Hilkka Rissanen, a content strategist at Vapa Media, talks about content that supports thought leaderships in her article ”How to Become a Thought Leader?”. Thought leadership brings along admiration, respect and an excellent market position; naturally, the competition over it is hard. Still, only some can do it. By analyzing content produced by opinion leaders, the most-read Finnish journalists, the article tries to find qualities and patterns in content that supports thought leadership. The article was written in cooperation with Scoopinion, a news recommendation service that provided the data for the analysis.

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Operating on multiple channels has increased the chances for flexible, continuous and quick communications. The challenge for many organizations is to manage the mix of channels without losing their core message and solid brand in the process. But is brand management, as we know it, even reasonable or desirable anymore? In his article ”The Curious Case of Gina Indelicada”, planner of Datafisher Sérgio Tavares talks about how social media has changed brand management. Unlike before, brands cannot be built in a vacuum; instead, they have to live in interaction with their environment. In social media anyone can easily change a well-built brand and its image – for better or for worse. How should companies be prepared for it? And if it happens, how should they react? The article also sheds light on the power of consumers: who, at the end of the day, is in charge of a brand? The purpose of the third issue of the Silent Signal is to raise thoughts and discussion on how companies should communicate in the changing environment. Let us know what you think and take part in the discussion on Facebook: facebook.com/hiljainensignaali. We also welcome any feedback on the issue and ideas or thoughts for future issues.


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“ Only with continuous content creation and communication can companies create favorable reading habits and create meaningful relations. �

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Brand Continuity

wear jeans most every day. I have six pair all the same brand. I have five kitchen appliances all produced by one manufacturer. In the last 30 years, I’ve owned seven different automobiles all from the same German automaker. Clearly, I favor certain brands. And I’m not alone. Even in today’s economy, most consumers have a particular brand in mind before they begin to shop. Brand loyalty is a mindset that is difficult to change. But we live in a world of change. Embracing change is how we move forward. So why, then, do we continue to stick with one brand over and over? Why do we not seek something new every time we buy?

The answer is continuity. When we have a good experience with a product, we trust its maker to deliver a similar experience whether it’s the same product, an improved product, or a different product altogether. Sure, we expect and demand that products evolve, but not at the expense of continuity. Continuity, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is a lack of interruption or disconnection without essential change. In episodic fiction, including filmmaking, continuity refers to a narrative device where past events are accounted for in the present. A character may fall off a ladder in one scene, for instance, and then have a limp in the next.

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Scott Storrs Storrs Creative


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When that story lacks continuity, however, the story line is disrupted and customers become confused and lose interest. Continuity provides familiarity and personality. It builds interest and reinforces trust. In this “storytelling” context, continuity gives the narrative a plausible and believable flow, sometimes referred to as a plot line or story line. Continuity ties the different elements of a story together smoothly. One might say that continuity is the plot police who keep the story “in line.” Competing products are rarely identical. Even commodities like milk or bananas can be differentiated in ways that position them as superior in one way or another. Whether it’s the way the product is produced, packaged or sold, there is always a story behind the brand. Usually it’s a series of short stories that add up to an overall pitch that positions its product(s) above its competitors. From the attention to quality to the beautiful design to the biographies of its founders, every brand has a story that can bring to life its character and personality.

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If done well, no one will ever notice continuity. It is a polish that makes brand stories so plausible we don’t think to question their credibility. Many smart people today are calling for content to be considered first – before channel or form. It’s a good idea with a simple premise: A brand story can be told in many ways, across many channels, on many devices, by breaking up the story into elements that can be distributed and assembled as needed by the presentation layer. More difficult to understand is how to execute this idea properly. Divorcing content from design without careful consideration of voice, tone and structure could potentially suck the personality out of a good brand story. Some would even say this relegates the art of storytelling to that of a machine that assembles stories from a database of tagged content.


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Enter continuity – our narrative device that can hold together content elements of disparate origins. Just as continuity in filmmaking helps hold shots and scenes together and keep a story line intact, so can it help properly structure well-crafted elements of a good brand story. Content First has many challenges that are yet to be conquered. It will require many writers to alter their process and become more fluent in the methods of User Experience and Information Architecture. It will force designers think more holistically across presentation formats. And it will challenge content strategists to let go of rigid message structures and let stories unfold in a variety of ways, through a variety of channels, on a variety of devices.

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As we face these challenges, we’re certain to apply many tools and techniques, new and old. Continuity is one such technique and the more we use it the more adept we shall become. As with any content, however, the better the story the easier our job will be. There is much wisdom in the adage that a good story writes itself. I believe that to be true no matter how it is structured or distributed.

” If done well, no one will ever notice continuity. It is a polish that makes brand stories so plausible we don’t think to question their credibility. ”

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A good brand story goes a long way toward establishing affinity. But as we all know, how we choose to deliver that story is as important as the story itself. Moreover, new media channels have not just given us more delivery options, they’ve changed the way people consume content across all channels and devices, even the old ones. So none of the old techniques apply, even to the old channels. Social media, for instance, is often referred to as a big cocktail party. Now that social has permeated and matured, I believe the metaphor can be extended to all channels of brand communication. So when you think


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of brand communication across channel, imagine a personified brand stepping into a party – a large room of diverse groups engaged in conversations of varied topics. The first thing the brand ought to consider is context. Who is at the party and why? Is it a birthday party? A holiday party? Is it formal or casual? What are the guest likely talking about? Are they discussing current events? Fashion? Sports? Traditionally, brands announce themselves to everyone at the party. They “broadcast” a message about themselves to all within ear-

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shot. The practice is so pervasive that we still use the term, “audience,” to describe potential customers – implying that the partygoers have come to hear the brand speak and it is now time to be quiet and listen. This is no longer an acceptable practice. Even if everyone at the party is potentially interested in the brand, it is not in the best interests of the brand to announce its arrival to everyone there. It would serve only to establish the brand as a boorish clod who is assumptive, pompous, and irrelevant. This leads us to Relevance. Say instead of announcing its arrival, the brand moves around the room, listening to conversations, absorbing the context, and looking for breaks in dialog where the brand’s story is relevant.


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This is the new brand etiquette. It is polite, unassuming, and customer-centric. It is how a brand behaves when that brand is someone you’d enjoy talking to at a cocktail party – someone who is interested in talking about things more interesting than themselves. The new brand etiquette also demands continuity. Remember, continuity is a narrative thread that makes the brand story credible. In the context of our cocktail party, the brand must have a message that accounts for its past. A soft drink brand, for instance, has no business talking about retirement strategies. It is not a credible source for that topic and participation would only hurt the brand.

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To be credible, a brand should stick to topics that are relevant to its industry as well as its past – and preferably core to its brand story.

background is credible, her present is plausible, and her future is intriguing. Because she has continuity, I trust that our next lunch will be as good as the last, if not better.

I recently made a new friend, an individual who after one short lunch, made me want to be a better person. I found myself wanting to be more kind, more understanding, more curious. We had a second lunch and, again, I was instilled with a renewed desire to learn more and live better.

Interestingly, the bar does not get higher each time. Continuity established trust between us and I am more willing to accept her shortcomings. I am certain that with both people and brands, the more continuity we have, the more trust we gain, the more forgiveness we receive, and the more loyalty we earn.

This is a true brand success story. I was exposed to this individual’s brand in context of my own interests. I listened to her brand story and was struck by its authenticity. Her

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� Continuity provides familiarity and personality. It builds interest and reinforces trust. �

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The Birth and the Re-birth of Video

Kai Herdin Mrs. Muir & The Ghost writers

oung adults of today, deeply seated in an audiovisual culture, are now building a world of videos online. The now-30-something founders of YouTube, for example, probably spent their youth playing computer games, watching MTV and movies of all sorts. The genial combo of sound and picture was planted in their minds from an early age. Now the kids of this generation are establishing the video as a primary format of communication. Technological developments and online streaming services are probably the biggest things to have impacted the video as a format since the breakthrough of television sets. As tech has become better and more affordable, consumers have gained access to editing tools and HD-quality recording equipment. Meanwhile, this modern Alexandria, the Internet, offers us mindboggling amounts of information in text format – and of course countless tutorials on video making to anyone interested in producing their own. More affordable tech and increased rate of its absorption by users concern both companies as well as us as individuals. Everyone’s at a similar level and has the same opportunity to produce content. As a matter of fact, cheaper tech is only one of the factors in the increased popularity of video. In its organic, fast and wholesome quality, video comes very close to being the

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purest form of communication that we can produce and experience. It makes us use more of our senses than any other format. So it’s no wonder that videos are increasingly used to tell stories both big and small, plain and exceptional. The old proverb has it that not everything is what it seems. When it comes to web videos, it’s the exact opposite: what you see and hear is not only what it seems but much more. The companies that have grasped this are making themselves more well-known to online viewers each and every day. Let’s consider the example set by the energy drink manufacturer Red Bull. Since its beginning in 1987, their international marketing has been based on creating desired mental images and links between the drink and extreme sports. These bonds have been built not just with words, but first and foremost with deeds. From Day 1, Red Bull has offered concrete support to adventurous athletes and adrenaline junkies of all sorts. Today they sponsore athletes ranging from Formula 1 drivers to surfers. Actual extreme sports acts, however, are usually far removed from the actual consumption of energy drinks: therefore the connection needs to be established to consumers as vividly as possible. Video has been the best possible tool for a company like Red Bull


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to bring forth its identity. Through videos, they can display to the whole world what sort of a lifestyle they represent. Red Bull would probably never have gained such a huge crowd with traditional marketing communication and advertising as they did with the help of Felix Baumgartner and the Red Bull Stratos project. The jump from the edge of the world was not just one of the biggest publicity stunts of our time – it was also one of the most major video recordings a company has ever made. Knowing what an integral part of the company their video storytelling is, it’s not surprising Red Bull founded their own multimedia company in 2007, specializing in sports, culture and lifestyle. In this age of multimediality, video is a strong core format. Such a large investment also tells two separate yet intertwined things. For one, Red Bull has faith in the growing video production business and they want a slice of that cake. Also, as a company they constantly require material and stories themselves: since there’s no reason to assume the stories will suddenly run dry or that the market will saturate, it

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makes only sense to get the material from someone you trust. The major point is that Red Bull Media House is not perceived as just an expense among others but it is aimed to be an independent company that stands to make a profit on its own. Every second you’re reading this, 60 minutes of video material is being uploaded to YouTube alone. Add to that all the other traffic in competing video services and various video-based communication between people, such as the use of mobile device applications and company conference-call tools, and you can safely say that videos are a huge part of our everyday lives. The statistics of viewed and shared videos are sending a clear signal of the shift of how individuals nowadays use and perceive videos. But that’s just one side of it all. Unlike in the heyday of television in the 50’s or during MTV’s golden era in the 90’s, people themselves now act as content producers. However, merely shooting home videos and uploading them online does nothing

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to strengthen the consumer’s position. The idea of new consumerism can only be realized once the actions of a consumer have an effect on his or her surroundings. This can happen by gaining a significant viewership: your views and thoughts are made known and spread along with the video content you’ve produced. The true empowerment of the consumer will take place only once people genuinely start to compete of media space and time with the traditional content producers. People using GoPro-camera are instantly labeled as its spokespeople. GoPro’s fisheye lens is such an instantly recognizable feature that you can’t mistake it for any other product. In a situation where the product and its use are so tightly linked, the consumers keep on benefiting the company long after the sale has been made and money has exchanged hands. The purchase is actually more like the seal to a shared journey between the con-


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sumer and the company: as the consumers express themselves with the camera, they are constantly writing new pages for the company’s unending story, much like in the case of Red Bull. Sky is the limit as to how integral the video as a format will become in our lives. The technical capacity and know-how of consumers will of course have an effect on how quickly the new visions can become reality. Comparisons between smartphones and dumbphones show that dumbphones still globally outnumber their smarter cousins by far (Business Insider 2012). In the United States nearly half the consumers have smartphones but in the former mobile superpower, Finland, only 42% owned a smartphone in 2011. Another testament to the knowhow and absorption level of consumers is that only 26% made use of a wireless web connection on their phone. The increasing

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number and development of mobile devices has, however, had an effect on the number of videos published (and viewed) – and there is no doubt the trend will continue into the future. The more mobile devices equipped with a video camera and online capabilities there are, the more raw potential there is for making videos. Instagram has already established a tight link between photographs and the mobile, so perhaps the video is next in line for this sort of development. Project Glass is Google’s take on the perpetual audiovisual life of future generations. The core of the project is a smartphone in the form of glasses, which give their user a constant online connection. The video camera is constantly filming and can project for example waypoints and directions onto the lens, a direct layer on top of your vision of the real world. And, naturally, you can also take photos and shoot videos with the glasses. Project Glass is one alternative of how holistic the video life can become. The glasses are combination of real time, locality and


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digitalism mixed with the real world, spiced up with constant availability and connectivity. Much like a smartphone, the glasses bring all the available content within the consumer’s reach and at the same time give her all the tools to produce her own contents and comment on existing ones. Perhaps future content on web platforms will be produced increasingly as videos instead of text. A Foursquare update from the new bistro you visited could include a brief video of the night’s menu with a comment track and the tweet of the mass demonstration you took part in would show the hordes of people in almost real time to other online users. In the last Olympics, The International Olympic Committee decided to implement a total ban on mobile devices. Perhaps next time they ought to consider encouraging all viewers to produce as much video content to share as they possibly can. It is a grandiose vision that you could pick any point of view you wish, switching from the bleachers to the point of view of a track official – or maybe even to the point of view of an athlete! One problem is, of course, the distrust companies hold towards the quality of user-produced content, another one is the question of copyright, i.e. money. The limitations enforced during the last Olympic Games were most likely meant to guide consumers to receive their content from a single source so that the quality control and “ownership” of everything produced could be kept in the official hands.

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Deloitte recently chose the Finnish auditing agency Dream Broker as Finland’s fastest growing technology company. Their flagship products are company-targeted services that help you do internal communications via, you guessed it, videos. The company states that consumers have already discovered video as a way of keeping in touch and now it’s time for companies to do the same. Dream Broker is on the right track but their thinking doesn’t quite hit the spot. Sure, companies need to start understanding videos now that the consumers have done it, but that alone is not enough. The next step is for the companies and the consumers to find each other with the help of videos.

” What you see and hear is not only what it seems but much more. The companies that have grasped this are making themselves more well-known to online viewers each and every day. ” In the recent wave of all things genuine and organic there’s been much talk about transparency, being real and available. Just like with people, it is important that you can somehow grasp and touch a company. They need to be able to stir emotions and be more than just what they are selling; they need to be genuine, you need to be able to reach

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out to them. Video is a fantastic tool to do both of these things, touch and be touched. It works both in everyday communication as well as in telling incredible stories in the form of blockbuster movies or informative documentaries. It is the most concrete and bare way to offer something. In its organic nature, the video is also constantly in motion. The world will not stop for a split second and it means the cameras need to be up and running all the time. If a company has no stories to tell, that’s telling something – of the company itself. What sort of an organization is one that has nothing worthwhile to offer to the world? Companies, like people, are put on this Earth to create new things and make valuable and interesting contributions. That’s the reason we constantly come up with stories to tell. Or like Werner Brell, the managing director of Red Bull Media House, puts it: “Whenever we did any event, or signed an athlete or executed a project, everything has been put on film or photographed. Stories have been told.”


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� In its organic and wholesome quality, video comes very close to being the purest form of communication that we can produce and experience. �

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How to Become a Thought Leader?

Hilkka Rissanen Vapa Media

n the Internet era the power and significance of opinion leaders has rocketed. Whereas earlier opinion leaders could only influence the opinions and attitudes of their physical network, now their audience can include anyone, anywhere. Since the beginning of advertising companies have also used celebrities hoping that as opinion leaders they would bring them more customers and better reputation. Engaging opinion leaders is, indeed, a very (cost)efficient marketing tool, as consumers rather believe another consumer than a company. Now, however, there are more channels and chances to become an opinion leader than ever before. Instead of one’s physical network, any consumer can reach at least as big of an audience with his messages online

as Nike and Michael Jordan did with their sneaker commercials on television. A good example of today’s opinion leaders are bloggers. It’s no surprise that the most popular bloggers get more offers from companies in a day than they can count. Companies can be opinion leaders, or thought leaders, as well. In this case leadership is based on expertise and knowledge. The British communication and content agency TLG ranks thought leaders in their Index of Thought Leaders. Every year the top spots are taken by the world’s biggest and most innovative companies. Rightly so, as for instance Apple, the number one in 2011, has changed the way we perceive and use a phone. Google, also found on the list,

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has become a verb and a synonym for search engine. Indeed, a thought leader is so good at what it does that it becomes a norm followed and copied by others. Its expertise is so strong that it speaks on behalf of the whole industry and develops it further. Thought leadership can be defined as a higher level of opinion leadership. Whereas an opinion leader changes attitudes and opinions, a thought leader changes the whole industry – usually for the better. Organizations compete over the attention of opinion leaders and thought leadership, as they both bring actual value. Whereas the attention and engagement of opinion leaders is extremely efficient marketing, the position of a thought leader brings along admiration


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” The chances for becoming a thought leader have become more equal. ”

and respect. That leads to revenue, as trustworthiness is an important factor in making a purchase decision. In order to become an opinion leader or a thought leader, an individual or a company must have opinions, expertise and an audience that it can reach with its messages. Expertise and innovative high-quality products are, of course, required but they alone are not enough if the company doesn’t know how to communicate about them. Advertising by itself isn’t enough, as it rarely tells anything about the real expertise and competence of a company. The most important thing is to express one’s expertise in all communication. Building your profile as a thought leader is a continuous process that takes time. Through high-quality content that brings out themes important to the company, such as its values, innovations and development, the company can get follow-

ers and profile itself in the eyes of consumers and other audience. The chances for becoming a thought leader have become more equal. As nearly everyone has the same resources to spread their expertise and messages online, the quality of the content has become more important than money. On the other hand, equal opportunities might also make it more challenging to stand out. Consumers numbed with too much information are pickier when it comes to content. In order to stand out in the continuous information flow, content needs to be better than ever and more targeted. Consumers need to be interested in it and hooked by it in order to come back to it. What is the content that supports thought leadership like, then? Interesting and professional, sure, but what does it mean in practice? What sort of content do consumers want to consume?

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Let’s first take a closer look at opinion leadership. Scoopinion, a service based on crowdsourcing, finds and offers well-read news articles for its consumers. It also provides means to measure and find opinion leadership. Scoopinion tracks its users’ time consumption when reading news articles and based on the data offers them articles likely to interest them. In addition to clicks, Scoopinion measures the time spent reading articles and the intensity of the reading. Therefore, in addition to being a welcome alternative for counting clicks as a measurement of the quality of journalism, Scoopinion provides a database to analyze and measure the opinion leadership of journalists.


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AVERAGE AUTHOR LOYALTY, N=200 SCOOPION READERS

50% By analyzing the articles written by the most-read Finnish journalists – in other words the real experts of content – one can find some guidelines for creating influential content based on knowledge and expertise. Even though as individuals journalists are opinion leaders, they write as professionals via their know-how and profession – like thought leaders.

In the data provided by Scoopinion, journalists who are more read than others clearly stand out. Based on their popularity and the statistics provided before, they can be called opinion leaders.

time spent

In a poll, the users of Scoopinion stated that they use 43% of their reading time solely on reading stories from their favorite journalists (figure 1). The figure is a clear indication that consumers follow and spend more time reading articles from reporters they personally like and perceive as good journalists. Even though the data doesn’t take a stand on whether or not the journalists have an influence on the readers opinions and attitudes, following in itself is a sign of opinion leadership. Consumers only use their resources on content they perceive as interesting and relevant. So if you are willing to continuously use your resources on a specific journalist and follow what he writes, he is very likely to be an opinion leader to you.

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Fraction of time spent

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1. Esa Mäkinen (Helsingin Sanomat, data journalist) 2. Jani Kaaro (Helsingin Sanomat columnist, and science journalist) 3. Tero Paloniemi (Iltalehti, Big Brother blogger) 4. Juha-Pekka Raeste (Helsingin Sanomat, political journalist) 5. Pekka Pekkala (HS, columnist) 6. Tuomas Niskakangas (HS, US correspondent) 7. Henrik Kärkkäinen (Iltasanomat) 8. Laura Saarikoski (Helsingin Sanomat) 9. Jarno Virtanen (Yle, news) 10. Tero Hakola (Helsingin Sanomat, sports journalist)

Even though time is only one resource and factor in opinion leadership, it is enough to give some implications on the content leading to it. Also a qualitative research was carried out analyzing the most-read articles of each of the Top 10 journalists. For that, Scoopinion provided attention maps that revealed the intensity of reading as well as how readers’ attention was divided throughout the article. The purpose of the analysis was to find patterns and implications of content that leads to opinion leadership. Based on the data, the most popular articles were divided in two groups. First, news based on expertise, new information and newsworthiness; second, columns, blog posts and editorials based on personal opinions and experience giving readers something to relate to. It is noteworthy that nearly half of the most read stories were of the latter type, even though the majority of newspaper content belongs to the first group, objective news content. The more subjective stories also had a significantly higher read-through av-

erage. Narrative stories and sharing personal experiences seem to be important aspects in keeping the reader interested till the very end of the story. The articles with the highest read-through rates also deal with easily relatable issues and themes such as raising children, middle class family life and friendship. A common feature in the most-read articles is narrative storytelling and strong expressions. Whereas factual news stories are easy to just scan through, narrative storytelling compels the reader to read the article more closely. Most of the articles also use vivid language and the voice of the journalist can be heard in the article. The second type of articles also presented strong opinions, experiences and viewpoints. Authors own experiences and opinions seem to be a hooking element, especially when combined with actual events and issues. The themes discussed in the articles are generally interesting to all readers, such as the equality of the Finnish military service,

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health benefits caused by the cigarette-ban in bars and current news topics and issues in Finland and abroad. Actuality, knowledge and expertise are common features in the most-read news articles. They also offer viewpoints, knowledge or investigative journalism that take the topic to a deeper level. In other words, they offer information that is not available anywhere else. There are only two real scoops within the most-read articles. In both of them the readers’ attention is caught with the headline. After that the attention and read-through percentage declines either evenly or quite radically. As soon as the secret promised in the headline is revealed, attention drops, leaving the read-through percentage rather low.


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What can companies learn from the mostread journalists in Finland? At least one thing is clear: narrative storytelling and personal experiences affect consumers and hook them on content. Content based on expertise doesn’t mean stating boring facts, but instead such confidence in your own expertise that you can express opinions and offer visions based on it. The most-read content is touching. Bringing out the company’s own voice and experiences increase the humanity and trustworthiness in the eyes of the consumers. Nowadays it is easier than ever. Corporate blogs and other social media channels are excellent ways to bring out the company voice and reinforce thought leadership. Several big companies have tried to pursue a more humane image by profiling themselves strongly through their leader(s). When Steve Jobs passed away, many predicted the fall of Apple as the company had been so strongly

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attached to its ambitious and innovative CEO. Apple fans all over the world got attached to Jobs and his story. Indeed, the best stories are true and come from within the company. Narrative storytelling doesn’t mean that companies should start to come up with sob stories just to be touching. Instead, it means that companies should talk about themes, issues, values and topics important to them in an interesting way. A thought leader has to be on the top his game and quick to react. When something happens in the industry, a thought leader can provide knowledge and insight not available anywhere else. That, indeed, is the very core of thought leadership. A thought leader does not copy the ideas of others but creates new thinking instead. A thought leader brings out his own innovations, visions and insight on themes important to him in a brave, quick and innovative manner. Like an expert should, only via stories that stem from personal experience. The article was written in cooperation with Scoopinion.


Silent Signal

Vapa Media-publication

�A thought leader brings out his views like an expert should, only via stories that stem from personal experience �

#silentsignal

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Silent Signal

Vapa Media-publication

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Silent Signal

Vapa Media-publication

The Curious Case of Indelicate Gina

ne of the most interesting recent Facebook cases has to be the Gina Indelicada – a fan page for Brazilian toothpick company, which received over a million Likes in less than two weeks. This article will discuss some questions raised by this curious event. Gina is one of the most popular faces in a Brazilian kitchen, something like the Quaker Oats is for the American family or Elovena girl for Finnish people. Gina, whose face belongs to a Polish immigrant Zofia Burk, has been illustrating a small box of toothpicks since 1975. Like her Finnish sister Elovena, Gina was supposed to be a well-mannered, familyoriented, traditional kind of girl. It wasn’t until last year that this image was struck by a whole new girl – quick-witted, sarcastic and funnily impolite version of the traditional Gina. The version brought to life was In-

delicate Gina fan page, which gathered more than a million likes in less than two weeks of activity, and over two million likes in its first month. Surprisingly the fan page wasn’t a clever scheme of an uptown advertising agency, but the personality of Gina belonged to a 19 year-old student, Riccky Lopes. When analyzing the success of Gina Indelicada, two explaining aspects arise. One of them is the use of brand confliction and the other is the fast and flexible use of cultural assets. Let’s have a look on those two:

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Sérgio Tavares Datafisher Oy


Silent Signal

1. Conflicting the brand: The character of Facebook Gina managed to surprise the audience. Instead of a gentle maid, Indelicate Gina is hot-tempered and sarcastic personality, who mercilessly distills a strong dose of bad humor over the audience. It is therefore fair to say that the hype around the page wasn’t about strong brand awareness but it had more to do with the conflict between the Facebook character and the traditional Gina. It was about the old and known put in to a new context with surprising and contradicting characteristics. 2. Using assets: As Gina Indelicada page grew popularity, criticism also popped up. Other humorous websites claimed that the

Vapa Media-publication

Indelicate Gina was simply ripping off jokes that were already circling on the net. The popularity and success of the page didn’t spring from nothing. Quite on the contrary, the success of Gina Indelicada was built from great deal of cultural assets that were used and modified flexibly – like almost all viral success stories are. In addition, Riccky Lopes already had a humor-related fanpage with over 800.000 likes. That was an important start point to spread the word about Gina Indelicada. It also shows that big cases in social media may not always come “out of nothing”. As the above aspects show, the success of Gina lied in clever brand conflict and the fast use of online cultural assets. But like mentioned, this all was created by a student instead of the company itself. How did the case continue?

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The first reaction from the toothpick company Rela Gina was to disclaim that they had nothing to do with the character and that they were taking legal actions to reclaim their image rights. However at this point, the audience of the Indelicate Gina was already engaged to the character. Facebook users defended their indelicate version of the toothpick lady and stated they would not buy the products if the page would be deleted. ” Is the power of consumers so strong in social media that they can effectively alter the brand to their liking – and should they be able to do so? ” These online protests took an effect and the company hired the student for a social media marketing campaign. It all sounds like a happy ending for everyone, but it


Silent Signal

points out to a fascinating yet disturbing scenario. Is the power of consumers so strong in social media that they can effectively alter the brand to their liking – and should they be able to do so? The case of Gina Indelicada raises the questions about the power of a social media horde and the way companies can benefit but also suffer for their activity. Where do you draw the line between being sarcastic and being offensive? When does the audience stop playing and start to take it seriously? What legal implications may rise from a company that decides to take its customer care in a less formal way? Who, in the end, is in control of the brand? In the case of Gina the audience was entertained, provoked and invited to participate. This kind of contradictory and informal

Vapa Media-publication

communication, that draws more from common sense than from legal terms, is probably one recipe for interaction between brands and customers. Gina’s case shows that as the freedom increases, the engagement strengthens. But could Gina’s example work with all kinds of brands? Perhaps not, but the case adds few interesting aspects to the ongoing discussion about brand building. First of all, a company may invest capital in creating a brand persona that may change overnight – to the worse, or like in Gina’s case, to the better. Secondly, the ecosystem of social media has its own flow and in this setting brand image is created by using online cultural assets and discussions flexibly. Companies cannot build their brands in a vacuum, but they have to be able to interact with the current issues and use these in their communication.

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As Gina’s case evolves, it might teach us one final thing: It is important to remember that the public is capricious. It may get tired, angry or upset with the change it wanted in the first place. It is a floating currency, as well: for every person that likes a sharp remark, there may be another (or a thousand) that doesn’t. The choice to engage this horde is in the hands of companies but if they do interact with the desired target groups, they have to decide whether the brand is strong enough for alterations, modifications and conflicting stories.


Silent Signal

Vapa Media-publication

�Companies cannot build their brands in a vacuum, but they have to interact with the current issues and use these in their communication.�

#silentsignal

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Silent Signal

Vapa Media-publication

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Silent Signal

Vapa Media-publication

�At first, only the most observant will detect the soundwaves rippling in the air.� The Silent Signal trend report gathers the whispers under one title and presents fresh expert perspectives on the effect digitalization has on consumerism, citizenship and companies. The report, scheduled to appear three times a year, consists of different expert articles by top actors of digitalism, marketing, advertising and communication both from Finland and abroad. The Silent Signal was first published in February 2012. The report is free of charge and free to use, except for commercial purposes. Regarding the use of the report, the terms of the Creative Commons license apply. Please remember to make correct references (Vapa Media, The Silent Signal trend report) and provide a link to the original report whenever you use or cite the contents of the report. The report is available for download in Finnish at www. hiljainensignaali.fi and in English at www. silentsignal.fi. Join the conversation: write and comment on the changes taking place on the Facebook-page of the report at facebook.com/hiljainensignaali or comment via a tweet #silentsignal ! This report would not have been possible without the help of Vapa Media’s work community, graphic designer Janne Melajoki, all the article authors and the active web public interested in content and digitalism. Contact: Hilkka Rissanen Vapa Media Oy Tel. +358 40 8301192 Email: hilkka.rissanen@vapamedia.fi Twitter: @hilkkariss

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Silent Signal

Vapa Media-publication

The Silent Signal –trend report is published by the content agency Vapa Media. Vapa Media is Finland’s first agency specialized in content strategy. We believe in meaningful content and in its power to attract attention. We create content strategies for companies and organizations and help various actors define what platforms, messages and content solutions to use in order to best reach their clients on the web. In addition to this, we also do client-oriented website design and social media functions that offer interesting content to target audiences. Vapa Media is publishing this report to inspire discussion around the central functions of the web and in order to further our collective thinking. Vapa Media: vapamedia.fi facebook.com/vapamedia twitter.com/VapaMedia slideshare.net/VapaMedia Contact: Ida Hakola Vapa Media Oy Tel. +358 50 5394912 Email: ida.hakola@vapamedia.fi Twitter: @IdaHakola

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Matti Oksanen Vapa Media Oy Tel. +358 50 3878303 Email. matti.oksanen@vapamedia.fi


Silent Signal 3/2012  

The Silent Signal trend report discusses the digital revolution and the multiplicity of consequences it has for the lives of companies, cons...

Silent Signal 3/2012  

The Silent Signal trend report discusses the digital revolution and the multiplicity of consequences it has for the lives of companies, cons...

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