Social Media

What a Daily Mail Reporter Named Samantha Brick Can Teach You About Event Marketing

April 5, 2012

Can It Pay To Be An Attention Seeking Ho-bag?

There’s always a good story or two to be told somewhere.  Some of these are great and some are not so great.

Let’s take  a look  at a recent example that whilst seemingly innocuous offers one or two important lessons for you event organisers.

The Daily Mail recently ran a story which was penned by one of its staff by the name of Samantha Brick.

This isn’t the first time that the Daily Mail has courted controversy and it certainly won’t be the last.  The Daily Mail is in the business of page views. Page views feed it’s rate card and for that reason it does its utmost to gain as much attention as it can, and boy it hit the jackpot yesterday!

Samantha wrote a piece around the difficulties of being beautiful. No really, she did. This caused an up swell of  commentary  in places all around the web.

Media Briefing has posted some great stats around the economics of the story detailing ad revenue models and various numbers from web sources.

The Mail itself reports that the article had 1.5 million “hits” yesterday but Mail Online MD James Bromley tells me that the entire site received nearly six million unique visits yesterday (which fits with the ABC-audited average daily user figure for March of 5.7 million). Most traffic is from the UK, he says, but the US follows close behind.

Twitter was ablaze with outrage and ridicule generating over 1 million tweets (and rising) on the topic. The graph below shows the activity for the keywords Samantha Brick and Daily Mail over the previous 7 days as of April 5th 2012.

The article itself, generated in excess of 5000 comments. At it’s peak it was receiving around 4 new comments per second.


There are a wave of copycat type stories both threatened.


And inevitably  written by some too.

People are of course  having a lot of fun with this, although going by some of the comments some are quite angry too.

Samantha even appeared on UK national TV this morning program (video) and gave her reason for writing the piece as she was concerned that other women were less than polite to her because of her looks.

The Daily Mail has also ran a follow up piece (and lots of others) and is clearly milking it for all its worth.

Get people excited by things that they care about

I’m not going to try and  rehash or debate any of what Samantha has said or what’s been written about her as that’s clearly been done to death.  I’d merely be contributing to the echo chamber and would look like one of those copycat page view whores. It is noteworthy all the same that Samantha is most certainly not the most beautiful woman in the world (unless you’re her Dad, Mum or her Husband maybe) but  because of the way in which she’d wrote her piece, she’s inflamed the egos and passions of people  almost everywhere.

And therein is the clue P A S S I O N.

If you want to make your event a success, then you have to try and inspire a little passion in folks.

You have to get people excited, you have to try and get them to care about what it is you are saying.

Samantha Brick outraged the sensibilities of men and women by daring to suggest that she had this terrible problem of beauty.  She came across as some kind narcissistic dimwit who lived in this make believe world full of jealous others who saw her as some kind of threat. She failed (some might say on purpose) to grasp the fact that in the grand scheme of things she really isn’t anything particularly special to look at. She’s hardly ugly (every-body’s beau-ti-ful in their own wa-y) but she wrote the piece as if what she was saying was in some way unquestionably true.

People hate bullshit, especially when its delivered from an established platform of perceived authority with a fine tradition in print news.

Cynics would say that the piece was in fact a finely crafted piece of writing devised solely to enrage and stoke scorn and derision.  AKA Linkbait. Links are the hidden economy of the web. They drive relevancy and boost rankings in search engines like Google and Bing. High rankings for keywords can mean big money for certain types of publishers. The Mail Online isn’t the first reactionary news publisher and it certainly won’t be the last.

When you consider the economics, 6 million page views @ a CPM(cost per 1000 page impressions) of  between 20 and 40 GBP is a princely sum of between £120,000 and £240,000! Yes, wow.

Even if those CPM figures are somewhat inflated it’s still a handy insight in to what drives interest on todays web. People it seems love to be annoyed, they love to rage out and have their say, especially when  they fundamentally disagree with what’s been posited.

The key takeaway here is that whatever your event may be about, it really does pay to think around what hooks and devices are there at your disposal.

Thinking about the Psychology of your intended audience

Samantha’s piece hit so many buttons in the minds of both men and women, you could almost see the lights flashing from the moon.

She touched raw nerves and dared tread on topics that most people would only joke about in some light hearted way. She gave people an impression that she truly believed in what she was saying and that her life really was made difficult by her ‘beauty’.

This of course sparked fire in peoples mind and induced mass incredulity as people mocked and laughed at how she could truly believe this. When you compare her difficulties with those of someone blinded or critically injured then it begins to put things in a perspective where people were justifiably flabbergasted by what she was saying.

And yet, that’s the power of good writing.  It allows the writer to keep a straight face throughout, there’s no immediate point at which we can counter the readers belief or opinion mid flow. What we say is digested and interpreted as it is read.

By pressing the right buttons we can elicit responses that really can create mass interest. People will want to share their concerns and have in their droves linked to the piece over and over again.

Whilst the example cited may seem a little extreme, it most certainly illustrates the benefits of attention.  If you are marketing your event, it is your job to create attention, and it most certainly pays to give it that little extra thought.  How you go about that is  of course, entirely up to you.

Did I ever tell you how tough it is to be a man?

Finding Events is Getting Easier But It’s Far From Cracked

March 18, 2012

The Event Space is huge and far from solved.

By far the largest Event platform today has to be eventbrite and as of 20 seconds ago they were saying that they’d sold over 50 million tickets for a variety of events. That’s just the paid ones. That doesn’t include all those free little gatherings that people have created.

Then there’s the Facebook event thing o- which is still a little hit and miss from a discovery perspective but as cindy points out is on the road to improvement. It really needs to go open mind, and be location and keyword searchable. Facebook API are you listening!?

I’ve read people talking about foursquare as a discovery platform but for me it isn’t really zoned in on the whole event space and neither should it be really, but it’s certainly a vehicle for a tie in.  I guess this is the part where I say something bold and outreaching, let’s try  ”We here at Events Near are going to explore ways in which we can enable users to check in to new events they add, once they are there”.  If I say that we aren’t kidding and hell why not then it might be taken a little more seriously, eventually.

I hear some people ask the question, oh hang on what value does that add exactly, and why, who really cares about who went or what they did or what they shared!?

I do, and why wouldn’t you?

So please, bear with me for a second – If we consider the notion that events and their existence are of course different things to different people for different reasons then we can at least begin to understand that there really isn’t a once size fits all approach to say a page that might look to promote or discuss it. Be it a 4sq tie in a highlight or a glancee or a banjo or a sonar  or a twitter thing the point is that all of those apps are being used by people who are going to these things. Whilst they are there and in the vicinity, yet when you subsequently investigate the event or the space there’s very little evidence of it all.  It’s gone, lost, Kaput.

Some of it is the fault of the people creating their events online. Some pages are just crap and have the attention grab power of an ice cube on a polar cap ( we are still very guilty of this) . Personally I think I might spend about 20 seconds reading an events page – and on those occasions it’s usually because I’m either already bought in to going or have a serious interest that requires me research a speaker or an aspect. When it comes to simply browsing by topic or area, it’s very difficult for me to convince myself to hang around.  Most of the promo pages are bland or poorly formatted, or just lost in the moment of when they were created.  There’s often little evidence of life or vibrancy. No effort to pull in or make sense of the 100′s of 1000′s of perspectives that may be related created by the people who took the chance to check them out.

How many people do you know who have been to a summer fair or a conference or a sports game buzzing with a story around how cool it was or how they just generally enjoyed the whole experience?

The people, the ambience, the setting, the venue. Very little of this is ever communicated on a subsequent or follow up events page which from the perspective of someone new to an area or absent of any insider info is a crying shame. This is of course 2012, we have an awesome interconnected online space with 100′s of 1000′s of people running around with smartphones and blogs sharing all and sundry and yet much of this is lost to a past. People do things, share things and move on. Very few things from the past make it in to the future. The reference points are few and far between as promoters efforts are focused on gaining attention for the future.

So, what if we could do a little more to at least harness some of what happens in the now and make it available in those places that people happen to land on from a search engine somewhere. It makes absolute sense to supplement a page that uses hashtags with external content that discusses it. Whilst it may degrade overtime a page like this for example includes conversations from Twitter. Whilst far from perfect, outside of the promo text perspective, visitors to that page can see people discussing the event with links to other related perspectives. I think that the general idea of using social in this way can be much improved and enhanced. Stuff around, who attended, are they influential, what did they think, where did they go whilst there (restaurants, hotels, shops, transport) are all points of value and reference to someone else looking at the place.

Sentiment could be mined from commentary around the event – how were the facilities, was that wifi any good, who was rocking the space in speaker field. The possibilities are of course limited by the imagination and will to make it all happen. Trust me when I say that I appreciate how huuuuge such a thing would be to pull off, but it’s certainly possible.

I guess what I’m really saying here is that the day when promoters could just rock up, talk some marketing speak and slap a big price tag on are in the descendency.  We’ve all seen how sites like Tripadvisor have just opened up the hotel space and made hoteliers more responsive to the needs and concerns of their visitors. We’ve seen how Yelp have done similar for food establishments and there’s no real sign of any of this consumer driven transparent democracy slowing down.

Gotta love a challenge! :)

I’m Rob, follow me on Twitter