Social media can be glamorous, interactive, lonely and powerful. Hannah Anderson, one of Vogue’s top 25 most influential women and co-founder of Social Chain, discusses how you can be successful on social, simply by being human.
We’ve summarised some of Hannah’s key points, but for the full talk, check out the video, podcast in this post, or transcript below!
The Power is With the People
Hannah began her social media pages over 10 years ago as a hobby and quickly learned: just because it’s your page, doesn’t mean it’s about you. If the audience shares your passions or problems, they are more likely to enjoy and interact with your message. So that is where you should start. We should begin seeking out ways to resonate with our audience as more than just a “target market”, they are people, let’s use that.
When you view your audience as people, rather than a market, you can consider the human emotion they will be able to relate to. This can include “high arousal emotions” such as ecstasy and agony. These emotions cause a physical reaction from the body, such as increased heart and breathing rate. By prompting these emotions you engage with the audience on a deeper level. Hannah’s team by focusing on these high arousal emotions subsequently created “the most-watched sponsored video in the sports category, over a three month period”.
The Human Experience
There are some problems that are associated with a particular time in our lives. If a client asks you to increase engagement with a subsection of its customers, consider how you are able to genuinely assist with their daily human experience. When Hannah was asked to increase the use of student cards by Holland and Barrett, she created memes surrounding freshers flu. By offering a solution to a specific problem, the audience related, and it resulted in 6 times ROI.
Sometimes human nature is simply to do what we know we shouldn’t. This in itself can be a marketing tool. If information is “leaked” as part of an advertising campaign, this can make the news travel much further and consequently have a greater impact. Everyone likes to know the goss’.
If you feel your reputation isn’t representative of the values of the company, humanise your re-brand. Align your brand to represent the personalities, thoughts, feelings and emotions of the audience you want to attract. If a potential customer can see themselves in what you display, they will gravitate towards it.
“Brands who align their personality to the real human condition will win, every single time.” It is very easy to make people care about the things they already care about. Hannah’s success results from understanding human nature and catering her plan to the person, not the product. Focus on the person, instead of the sale, the sale will come.
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Hi everyone. It’s James from The Marketing Meetup. Hope you guys are well. I’ve got a brilliant talk here. Manchester has been kind of blowing up since we started. This was only our third one and the room was packed. The community is nearly at 700 in Manchester. And it’s just going really well. And I think part of that is down to the incredible community obviously that we have, but also the quality of the speakers. And this talk unsurprisingly, as it’s Hannah Anderson of Media Chain, who is one of the top 25 most influential women, according to Vogue. And so it doesn’t really get much better than that. Hannah really didn’t disappoint. Her talk’s absolutely brilliant. And so I think you’re going to really enjoy it.
Before we let you into the talk, huge thank you to Barry, as always at Bravo Marketing. Who is helping us put these podcasts together. And don’t forget to subscribe to our Wednesday at two email. Check out the Facebook group. Come to the next event. Get yourself onto themarketingmeetup.com and find out more about what we’re doing and where we are. And yeah, hope you’re all well and hope you really enjoy this episode.
So about 18 months ago I broke my back. As you can probably tell from the splint on my wrist, of my recent broken wrist I’m quite accident prone but back to me breaking my back. I was trying to do a back flip on a trampoline when I landed myself, quite literally, with a broken spine. And whilst I was lying there face down on this trampoline in the worst pain of my life. I was screaming, “Help me, help me.” And I was having to wiggle my toes to see if my legs were still going to work. The only thing I could think was, this is going to make a fantastic tweet.
My name is Hannah and I have been addicted to social media for about 10 years now. The thing about social media is everything about it is designed to be as addictive as possible. So every like, every comment, every retweet that you get sends a hit of dopamine directly to your brain and it makes you feel good. And when I first joined social media in about 2008, 2009, I was absolutely hooked and fascinated by this new form of media. I started building pages on Facebook when I was in sixth form. So this is April 12th 2010. I built my first ever page. It was called, I could always do with a good sandwich. It was based around something that I’m very passionate about, sandwiches and I would post silly jokes like this. I still find it funny but you guys don’t have to laugh. As you can see, I could always do with a good sandwich, went incredibly viral. It got six likes, one comment, Morgan here said, “Ha ha ha.” So I was buzzing.
But this kind of interactivity, although it was only six likes and one comment, that was seven people who genuinely cared about what I was writing, that was amazing and I absolutely loved it. And I did this for all the way through sixth form and I think it got to about 2000 likes over all, the page, which at the time felt like a lot. That was the amount of people who were in my school, again loads and loads of people. But for me I’d actually wanted to be a teacher since I was five years old. So this picture here on the left hand side, this is me on my first day of school and the signs on the window there say, hip, hip, hooray. Hannah starts school today. Me and my dad had made those the night before, I think he was just buzzing to get me out of the house and into school for 18 years.
But I had to, when I started my teacher training, I thought it was quite uncouth for a teacher to be building a sandwich page her spare time. So I had to give it up. But as you can see, I was still quite passionate about social media. I was… Every up and down through my teacher training, I was posting it on Facebook. I was actually quite surprised to find out that the Farmer Wants a Wife, is genuinely a dating site now for lonely farmers. When I was searching for those lyrics for one of my lessons. But yeah, so I’d given up my sandwich page, but I was still so fascinated and interested by social media. But whilst I was training to be a teacher, well, I hadn’t actually given up my passion for social media. Had a little bit of a secret. And in my spare time I’d been building hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter.
I’d actually worked out that people on Twitter and people on social media didn’t really care about me or my teaching degree. I was just a young girl from the Northeast of England training how to be a teacher. No one gave a crap about me. But what people did give a crap about was what they cared about. So I’d figured out that I love Harry Potter. I loved Harry Potter, Harry Potter was one of my biggest passions. But it wasn’t just my biggest passion, it was millions of people’s biggest passion. So what did I do? I created a page about Harry Potter and this page, again posted hilarious, feel free to laugh again, if you want. Posted funny jokes, puns. I can see someone laughing in the front, thank you very much. And this actually grew from zero to 100,000 followers in the space of three months and although it had grown that much, 100,000 people, laughing at my jokes and retweeting them. I was getting hundreds of thousands of engagements every day.
I didn’t really think anything of it. This was just my hobby. This is just what I was doing in my spare time. I still planned on becoming a teacher. And then I received a direct message off two strange boys. They actually, Dom on the left, [inaudible 00:05:48] and he said, “Hey man, love the page.” He assumed I was a male because no one in the social media space at the time was a female, “Hey man, love the page, do you want to make some money off it?” And I was like, “Oh my God, yes, money. I’ve never really earned any money before. Of course I do.” And these guys changed my mind on what I wanted to do. They had this idea for something called Social Chain. Which at the time was just a chain of pages built from kids in their bedrooms around passion points.
So my passion point was Harry Potter. I had a few other pages too. And I said, “Yes, let’s see what we can do here.” I did graduate as a teacher, but after I did, as all my teacher friends went off to start their teaching careers, against all the advice of my parents and all of my family, I went and started a company with two strange boys off the internet.
And like I said, what we spent the first few months and few years kind of doing was finding similar people. Similar kids in their bedrooms with passions. So we found Nick who was passionate about football, he’d built a… Took a page which had, I think at the time, maybe 800,000 followers all around football. We found Jule, he loved gaming, he loved Runescape and he’d made a gaming page in his bedroom, was sat on millions of followers. Same with Josh, he loved fitness. He’d made a fitness page. And same with Beth, she loved food and she’d made the biggest food Instagram page in the world. And we rounded up all of these people all around their passion points all around what people were interested in and the real human condition.
And you fast forward five years from then and we’re not just posting silly Harry Potter jokes or silly sandwich jokes anymore. We’ve actually got a media powerhouse. We have some of the biggest social first brands in the world. And this kind of human first approach to social media, this understanding of how people act and why people act, actually got me named in the Vogue list of the 25 most influential women in the country last year, alongside people like J K Rowling, Dua Lipa, Meghan Markle. Now, as you can tell, I’m not a princess and I’m not a famous writer, although I wish I was because I might be able to meet J K Rowling. But I was listed in here because of my influence on social media and because of that understanding of the human condition and what makes people act.
And this understanding of humans and this understanding of building a brand around a personality has led us to work with some of the biggest brands in the world as well. So how do you build a brand on social media? Well, very traditionally, back in the day, you might look, who do I want to target? I want to target female, male, young, old. You might say something like, “I’m brand X, so I need to hit X gender, X age with my brand and that’ll work. I’ll chuck an advert at them and that’s going to build my brand.” Bullshit.
Unfortunately for traditional media, social media has come in like a wrecking ball and it’s put the power in the people’s hands. No longer can you just bark your message at people because they’ve got every single right to scroll past. I have a friend, her name is Sarah. This is a picture of me and Sarah when we were in Valencia when we were 21. So Sarah is your typical 16 to 34 year old female. She’s exactly the type of person who you might want to target if you’re a fashion brand. But the thing is, Sarah couldn’t give a shit about your fashion brand. So when Boohoo came to us wanting to target 16 to 34 year old females, what did we do? Well I had a look at Sarah and Sarah’s got one real problem, one real human problem, that she always has every weekend, she never ever has anything to wear. And when we looked at social, across Twitter, Facebook. What were other 16 to 34 year old females worried about? Well, they were all worried about having nothing to wear ever.
So what did we do for Boohoo? We created Boohoo Nothing To Wear. And every single week, we’d tweet this out from Boohoos account. Giving out a free outfit. So people were tweeting, saying why they deserve that free outfit. And then Boohoo would choose someone at random to give the free outfit to. We pressed our magical Social Chain button and we amplified this across all of our female focused communities and people started tweeting it. So [Louise 00:10:32] here, wants the free outfit because she’s a broke history student who, if she doesn’t win this, is nothing but a subpar nerd with good eye shadow. I wish I could relate but I can’t actually do eye shadow that well. Cath here is broke and delayed on a train. She wants the free outfit. And people are going to mad lengths to get this free outfit. This girl here said that her goldfish died a couple of years ago, so she definitely did not deserve the free outfit and I don’t think she actually won. And after 20 minutes, Boohoo Nothing To Wear was in the Twitter trends.
Boohoo were giving a shit about the young girls and their real human problems. So the girls started to give a shit about Boohoo. And if you look at Boohoo over the past five years and when we’ve been working with them, and again kind of focusing on this human first personality building, you’ll see that their shares have actually skyrocketed. I have a friend, his name is Casey. So Casey is like your typical lad, lads lad. He loves football, absolutely loves football, watches it every single weekend. Super Sundays. He’s all over Sky Sports. Casey loves Ipswich, loves when Ipswich scores a goal, loves when Ipswich wins, he feels complete and utter ecstasy whenever they win, whenever they score. And Casey also hates Ipswich. Whenever Ipswich loses or whenever Ipswich concedes a goal he feels that agony. That agony of, oh for gods sake, come on Ipswich. Unfortunately if I may, I’m a Sunderland fan, so I feel a lot more agony than I do ecstasy. But this isn’t about me, going back to Casey. Casey also loves betting. He loves putting an accumulator on every weekend, he loves his betting on football.
But he’s quite agnostic when he comes to where he bets. He goes for the places that have the best deals. Just kind of wherever he goes. So when Sky Bet came to us, wanting to own more conversations during the Sky Bet Championship Playoffs, what did we do? We focused on these two key emotions. Now what these emotions are, they’re not just regular emotions, what they’re classified as, are high arousal emotions. And I don’t mean not in a funny way, I mean they make you physically feel something. So when you are ecstatic, you’re shaking, your heart rate’s going. When you’re in agony, when you feel that agony, again, it makes you physically feel something. And this is what we did. It’s meant to have sound.
In May 2017, we partnered with Sky Bet Championship Playoffs. we were tasked with raising brand awareness, boosting positive sentiment and increasing Sky Bet share of voice on social, by portraying the agony and ecstasy of the event. To make a substantial impact on social, we created a number of engaging activations and a social first video series that went through the eyes of fans, to capture the spirit of this years’ competition. Working closely with one of the world’s largest sports publishers, SPORF, we began our search for four fans from each playoff team. To kick things off, we launched a series of Instagram stories on SPORF, which celebrates the playoffs most agonizing and ecstasy filled moments. Our initial activity generated 6 million impressions and over 4 million video views. Having dominated the conversation around the playoffs on Instagram, we launched the second part of our campaign, a prize giveaway posted on Twitter. After initiating three Social Chain thunderclaps, we were able to record mass engagement and huge traction on the hashtag agony or ecstasy.
And then came the moment we had all been waiting for, Sky Bet Playoff semifinals. Our journey took us to some of the most iconic grounds in English football. Craven Cottage, Hillsborough, Madejski, and the John Smith’s Stadium. With the action unfolding on the pitch. We took to the stands to document the agony and ecstasy of the games through the eyes of the fans. Our presence on the ground and online content enabled Sky Bet to stay front of mind throughout the competition and leading up to the final showdown at Wembley. May 29th, Wembley Stadium, we were able to capture the true extent of agony and ecstasy in our final video. Thanks to a thrilling penalty shootout between Huddersfield Town and Reading. Tubular Insights later revealed that our final video beat the Sport Bible, Manchester United and Manchester City, to become the most watched sponsored video in the sports category over a three month period. Overall, our entire campaign recorded 24 million impressions and over 250,000 engagements.
So as you can see, obviously we have the ability to amplify that, but it wasn’t the ability to amplify the content that we created that made that go so far, it was focusing on what every single football fan in the world can relate to. Those two key real human emotions and not just thinking about the numbers on the screen. Like I said, those high arousal emotions are what got that going so far. I have another friend, her name is Katie, just like a lot of students, Katie hates Freshers’ Flu. She got knocked down by Freshers’ Flu on the second day of freshers and was sat in a pit of self pity and loathing. And again, a lot of freshers bloody hate Freshers’ Flu. It’s one thing that they really experience every single year. Even if you’re not a fresher, if you’re in second or third year at uni, you’re guaranteed to get Freshers’ Flu.
And just like a lot of students, you know what Katie loves is memes. So this is me talking to Katie quite recently. She has been around the memes far too long, she absolutely loves memes. Just like a lot of students around the country and around the world. So when Holland & Barrett came to us wanting to increase their in-store student redemptions, we combined two things that students are genuinely passionate about, they hate Freshers’ Flu and they love memes. And what we did was we created several memes like this, branded it with Holland & Barrett and we amplified them across our community student problems.
And what that did was it created a six times return on investment on redemptions across the UK. Stores in the UK, that’s people, students physically going into store and buying student discounted products. All because of that relating to the real human condition and not thinking about just pumping your message out there. Holland & Barrett could have easily just put an advert out student discount, but no, what they did was they made memes instead with us and that’s what led to the increase in redemptions.
I have another friend, his name is Dominic. I mentioned him before. And when this advert came out Christmas last year, you probably recognize it, it went huge. Went really viral. Had a fantastic message behind it you. Not to use Palm Oil in food because it’s destroying the rain forest. Fantastic message. Obviously, a really good message to spread and people were sharing it because they were passionate about that and they wanted to spread that message and they wanted to stop that happening or were they? When we actually looked into why this message was spread so far, the number one thing that was said when people were sharing this video as they were sharing it because it was banned.
Yes, it had a fantastic message about it but I genuinely believe that if it wasn’t banned it wouldn’t have gone anywhere near as far. And it reminds me again of Harry Potter. I will mention it again, in Harry Potter 5, a teacher bans a magazine from the school and Hermione says to Harry, “Oh Harry don’t you see.” If she could have done one thing to make absolutely sure that every single person in this school will read that interview, it was banning it. And that’s something that’s been in [inaudible 00:18:55]. So seen throughout human history, you ban something and people are damn right going to go and do it. And we’ve known that for a long time. We’ve understood that for a long time.
And this example here is actually from before the Iceland advert. BoohooMAN came to us wanting to cause a storm on social. They just came to us with the brief of, make it go viral. So what we did is we turned BoohooMAN into the man, the man to rally against and we banned something. So we leaked this BoohooMAN staff card. We leaked it and if you were to type the code in on the top left-hand side of that card, you get 50% off on BoohooMAN. And we positioned it as some poor guy has dropped his employee card and we created someone to rally against. And everyone seemed to be really laughing at BoohooMAN, you know, “Ha ha, I’m getting one over on BoohooMAN. They’ve got no idea what I’m getting 50% off gourmet.” Well, they were laughing at them but they were also buying their clothes because, on that day, BoohooMAN saw their highest search rate on Google in their history. All because of that understanding of humans. And the real human condition and how humans act and feel.
I have a friend, this is the final one I promise, we’re not just going to be here for like eight hours going through everyone who I’m friends with. I have a friend, his name is Richard. This is me, Richard and a couple of our friends at Niagara falls. And Richard is your typical outdoorsy guy. He’s a risk-taker. This is him scuba diving, he’s climbing a mountain. Then in the bottom right there, he’s just about to jump off a waterfall. He’s exactly the type of person who would need a nice practical jacket to go on his travels. But just like a lot of people, Richard thought Superdry was a little bit of a dad brand. And Superdry came to us and they wanted to change that. They wanted to get away from that dad brand personality. So again, we thought, how can we align Superdrys’ personality with the personality of the people who they want to reach? And this is what we did. Again, Okay, it’s going to have sound…
So what Superdry did there was they aligned their personality with being dynamic, risk-taking and the enabler of people’s lifestyles. We blew up a car live, we had someone walking along scaffolding, thousands, I don’t know how high in the air and that changed over time the perception of Superdry for a lot of people. And on that campaign again, they got a real-life return on investment of their spend of 251% and here’s Richard on his travels quite recently and he’s wearing Superdry jacket.
And with Sarah, with Richard, with Katie, with Dom and with Casey, they’ve only got one thing in common. They’re all very different people. But they’re all people, they’re all humans with real thoughts, real feelings, real emotions, real problems and that’s exactly what these brands were tapping into. Brands that align their personality to the real human condition will win every single time. And the thing is, all humans intrinsically care about themselves. And their own interest, just like I care about Harry Potter. And that goes for everybody, not just my friends. Thank you very much.
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