Many in the media have said that the 2014 Oscars were the most successful in history. More people watched the broadcast; more people enjoyed the show; and more people kept talking about it online and otherwise once the lights went down.
What made this year's Oscars presentation so successful?
Was it that the hilarious, Ellen DeGeneres, was back hosting the Oscars after several years. Was it that the movies, awards, and speeches were especially strong? Or was it the overt use of social media, a very common-man/woman experience, throughout the show?
Ellen's references to tweets and sharing photos both promoted Samsungs's new mobile technology (one of the shows sponsors), as well as aligned the Academy Awards telecast with the media that Americans consume and share more than any other.
The most wildly successful social media bit was Ellen's attempt break the record for the most retweeted tweet in history. As she approached the front couple of rows and explained her plan in Ellen's signature impromptu style, A-list celebrities (along with a couple lesser-known guests) filed out of their seats and posed for an in-the-aisle group-selfie.
"” Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) March 3, 2014
The goal was reached and along the way marketers, social media specialists, and community managers were reminded of how the people they are trying to reach actually work. Here are four takeaways for online community managers:
Community Management Lesson #1) People Want to Be Part of Something
Which way to frame of photo tweet on Twitter is more appealing?
Do you want to check out and share this photo?
Do you want to be part of a once-in-a-generation media moment?
Ellen knows that emotional appeals drive action. When you are planning your online customer or member community, don't forget about why you are building community in the societal sense. In simple terms, explain why an active community is important to your mission, movement, or cause (first, you have to know what your movement or reason "why" is).
Creating and communicating something that people want to support and contribute to is an important part of your online community strategy.
Community Management Lesson #2) Ask for Participation
Aside from creating a unique media asset on the spot, all Ellen did was asked people to help her break the Twitter record.
If she had not explained her goal and how people could help, her tweet would have traveled far, but not nearly as far as it did. People would have consumed it, but fewer people would have shared it.
When companies, associations, or user groups implement online community platforms, there can be a mentality of "Here you go. We have built this for you. You know how to use it. Go forth and engage."
A key ingredient of thriving private online communities is consistent invitations by community managers to join or contribute to the community.
As you scope out your daily online community management plan, make time to identify places where segments of your community can participate in mass (polls, comments, crowdsourcing ideas, etc.), as well as discussions where you can reach out to individuals who might be able to answer a relevant question around a specific topic. Often, all you need to do is ask.
Community Management Lesson #3) Go Visual
This is a trend that has taken all corners of the web by storm over the past couple of years (except maybe scholarly journals). Images get more clicks, shares, and comments. Great visuals can blow the roof off your engagement goals.
Why? It is easier for our brain to process images. According to research from Zabisco, our brains process visuals 60,000X faster than text.
Attract people to your online customer or member community with the promise of high-quality photos, slide shows, or infographics. Inside your private community, present important data in a visual format, use images in blog posts, and highlight photos of recent events.
Your community members' brains will thank you and your engagement metrics will improve. You may be surprised by the level of traffic, sharing, and discussions that your visuals generate.
Community Management Lesson #4) Get Bradley Cooper to Hold the Camera
He has a steady hand, charming smile, and the healthy volunteer-spirit that you need to avoid fumbling around to figure out who will take themselves out of the photo to be the photographer.
If you don't take anything else away from these tips, know this. It is important to make sure that Bradley Cooper is available to help you create compelling media for your community. This is one of the best kept online community management secrets.
Online Community Management Takeaway
Not every person, brand, or organization can get their community to participate at the level that Ellen's "tweet heard around the world" did. In fact, many companies feel lucky if they are able to engage people around their own office.
Online community management takes time. However, during that time, it is important to take actions that are more likely to generate engagement.
Whether it is blatantly asking for participation, going visual, or getting Bradley Cooper to pose with you, experiment with the themes that get people to support the community with simple actions, just as Ellen did on Oscar night.