While creating and sharing user-generated content is an effective way to facilitate consumer engagement and viral marketing, it is not the only approach that marketers can take. Professionally produced original content is another proven way. Increasingly, agencies or production studios create and seed content on behalf of their clients for consumers to view and share online.
One such shop is Free Range Studios which has produced several original videos that have generated significant buzz and viral impact in the green space. Calling its approach “socially conscious viral entertainment”, Free Range tries to “distill a complicated message into a fun or moving short story” while engaging its viewers by allowing them “to write the end of that story by taking action or donating.” Stories are distributed not only through paid advertisement but via video sharing sites such as You Tube and, more specifically, RiverWired, emPivot and LivePaths in the green space. They are also distributed offline at concerts and events.
Recent Free Range videos with eco-themes including Grocery Store Wars, a Star Wars spoof about a “small band of organic vegetable puppets” including Cuke Skywalker, Ham Solo, Chewbroccoli and Obi Wan Cannoli that do battle against Darth Tader and the Dark Side of the Farm.
Most recently, Free Range released The Story of Stuff, a 20-minute video that explains the environmental impact regarding the “stuff” we consume. The video has been a huge hit, recording more than 3 million viewers on The Story of Stuff microsite alone. Moreover, the video has received acclaim by winning the SXSW Interactive Award for its contribution as an educational resource.
Marketers should recognize that there are certain trade-offs made in producing their own original content themselves versus encouraging users to generate it for them. For example, with original content, upfront costs are likely to be significant higher. Yet, for getting a complex message across to consumers, original content may be a marketer’s best option to hit a home run.