Dude, Where’s My Content? Ashton, Utley, and the ‘And Then….’ Approach to Social Content Distribution

Props to you if you recognize the image above. If not, perhaps this will jog your memory:

“And then……?”

In this iconic scene from the 2000 stoner comedy Dude, Where’s My Car?, Jesse Montgomery (played by Ashton Kutcher) becomes irritated while trying to communicate a simple drive-thru order to a cashier who is apparently bent on upselling. (I can relate, having done the same thing with cheesecakes and Italian ices while working the drive-thru at a Fazoli’s in Kalamazoo circa 2004). She responds to each item he orders with an increasingly demanding “And then….?”, ignoring his pleas to finish and process the order. She ultimately incites Jesse’s wrath; he wails on the speaker box and the scene ends with a hasty getaway.

If you’re already wondering what social media wisdom can be garnered from this pop culture gem, stay with me. The scene came up in a recent department meeting while discussing additional avenues for social content distribution on a client project. A few distribution options were already in place, but our group directors Ben Luntz and Josh Scheiner challenged the team to come up with additional options to add to the effort. According to them, a single distribution outlet for a piece of social content is rarely enough to tip the scale, therefore the need to continually seek out new and diverse distribution avenues is essential.

Full credit to Ben and Josh for giving birth to the ‘And then….’ Approach to Social Content Distribution.

So what exactly does this mean? It’s simple; no matter what the nature of your content (a video, a news item, a contest, an app, a song), if you are tasked with bringing attention to it in the social space, to be successful one can never stop at 1 partnership, 1 blog placement, 1 brand channel inclusion or 1 influencer tweet. Once one distribution avenue is secured, what’s next?

When we don’t have big bucks available to bring attention to our content through paid media, or the owned channels we have at our disposal don’t carry the weight to drive the traffic we need on their own, we depend heavily or exclusively on earned media to get the job done. As a general rule of thumb, earned media is a numbers game; in the PR world we wouldn’t stop pitching after earning 1 placement. A radio promoter wouldn’t stop at one ‘Add’, even if it’s a big one. Content distribution is no different; once one avenue is secured its up to us to add another, and another, and another, and another until our goals are reached.

I’m not claiming in any way that this is easy. There are numerous challenges inherent to creating and managing a multitude of diverse distribution outlets. It means more research, more emails, more required assets, more fulfillment, more relationship management, more reporting, and above all more creativity. But in an age where measurement and social ROI are everything, how can we not do everything in our power to bring attention to content that is often difficult and expensive to create? I can’t speak for everyone, but I certainly do not want any of my clients to spend 5 figures on a video piece that 100 people view, or send a family of 4 on a Disney vacation through a contest that 12 people entered. Interaction with content is time; time is valuable and if you want people’s time, you’d better not put all of your eggs in one content distribution basket.

Looking back I guess I’d always thought of distribution in a ‘more is better’ light, but it’s definitely fun to put it in the context of practical application. Recently my team spearheaded Big Fuel’s first activation within the LGBT lifestyle vertical- an album release showcase for out singer-songwriter Justin Utley. My goal was simple: do everything under the sun to create social content and drive engagements surrounding the event. Here are a few examples of what ‘And then…’ meant in this scenario.

Live Stream
We wanted to do a live stream of the performance and assessed a number of platforms.

And then: We passed on one platform that would have ensured a higher stream quality and no commercials for another that guaranteed a built-in audience through its social network.
And then: We contacted all bloggers and influencers who had written about the artist over a 2-year window and asked them to help drive traffic to the live event by tweeting the link on the day of the event.
And then: We contacted all bloggers/influencers scheduled to attend the event and asked them to support the live stream on their own social channels.

Video Pieces
Our talented Studio team was accustomed to producing a video piece surrounding similar events in the past.

And then: We asked them to expand from 1 to 4 video pieces.
And then: We offered 2 of the pieces as 1-on-1 interviews with bloggers from major LGBT websites.
And then: We offered an exclusive performance piece to another national blog partner that could not attend the event.
And then: We offered an ‘overview’ piece about the event to an LGBT video network with distribution among their own network of blogs. The piece included sound bytes from 3 pre-selected celebrity attendees who also posted the video piece to their own social channels.

At previous events the norm was to hire a photographer to capture photos for internal use.

And then: We hired a photographer established in the LGBT lifestyle vertical with large distribution through his own social channels and other media outlets, including a print magazine.
And then: We hired a 2nd photographer to focus on the step and repeat, ensuring that a maximum number of guests would view and interact with photos of them on the artists’ channels.

On-Site Social Filing
At previous events we’d ask attendees to tweet with an event hashtag to see their tweet on a projection image next to the stage, as well as check in on Foursquare.

And then: We offered signed CDs for 10 randomly selected individuals who checked in on Foursquare.
And then: We offered additional prizing for ‘Tweet of the Night’. (Fun Fact: the winning tweet employed the use of hashtag #heygirlhey).
And then: We scheduled tweets from the artists’ account to go live during the performance, asking questions and interacting with guests in the audience.

Additional And Thens:
And then: We allowed the artist’s Facebook fans to vote on which cover song he’d perform in the days leading up to the event.
And then: We activated a podcast, a newsletter, a Facebook group and a blog partner to give away tickets to the invite-only event through contesting.
And then: All guests who appeared in photo and video content were contacted individually to let them know where they could view the content.

And then………the event team and I almost lost our minds putting all of the And Thens together, but in the end the event was a resounding success. The 15 items above turned the event from a concert hashtag into a genuine social media experience. A few results:

  • Event partners reached a combined audience of over 41,000 podcast listeners, newsletter subscribers, Facebook fans and Twitter followers
  • The live stream of the event received over 12,000 viewers
  • Video pieces received homepage placement on 3 of the top 5 national LGBT-interest blogs with combined UMVs of over 300,000

If Ashton decides to tweet a link to my next client activation, I’ll take it. If not, I’m ready.



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  2. 10/17 2012

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Hello! Big Fuel is a full-service marketing and communications company based in New York that takes brands from Content To Commerce. A unique approach that bridges "people stories" to "product stories" through social media and branded content.

Big Fuel is one part marketing agency, building brands through consumer insight; one part entertainment company, creating content that people love; and one part distribution company, driving guaranteed results by delivering content to targeted audiences. We work with major brands, leading agencies, publishers and platforms to help marketers achieve true consumer engagement.

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