Making Good Shit Stick Is Tough

Don’t get me wrong. I love the meritocratic world of the web. Good stuff floats, average stuff gets suspended in the sea of mediocrity and bad stuff sinks without trace. And that’s the way it ought to be.

It used to be really easy. Back in 2002. There was a lot less good stuff out there, so getting seen was much easier. But we’re now entering a world where something has to be doubleplusgood in order to get noticed. (Or have a big media / seeding spend behind it).

In an idealised online world influence is something pure. Something that gets earned over time. A few years ago you couldn’t really buy online influence, that’s why ‘viral’ became such a hot topic. If you could find a few of the influencers and get them to mention your thing, the job was done (or at least kicked-off in a decent way).

But now the population is so much bigger it’s much harder to get out there (at speed) without using mass-media style techniques (buying your way in, or lunching people like a PR pro). Getting any kind of cut-through quickly is tough.

Don’t get me wrong, the long-tail is great, it drives the right kind of people in a sustainable and genuine fashion. But getting to a point where you’ve earned a sufficient degree of link-love quite often takes time.

And sometimes time isn’t on your side.

We’re stuck in one of those situations right now. The climate change bill is creeping ever closer in parliament and we’ve not got the time or cash to accelerate the Get On Board campaign for the WWF.

We need more people to get stuck in. The guys at the WWF are doing a great job of getting their supporters involved. They’re pushing as many media buttons as they can. But the story just hasn’t picked up like we all hoped it would.

It didn’t sound so hard, we just wanted people to sign-up to push for a stronger climate change bill. And we thought that using a story around aviation and shipping made sense and wasn’t too complex (or too dumb). Maybe we over-stretched? Maybe we over estimated how much capacity people have to care about the world? Or maybe we just came up with an idea that wasn’t good enough?

But you can’t say that the idea of creating a decent climate change bill isn’t a good one. That’s just a fact. However you look at it.

We need more sign-ups.

Go here to add yourself to the petition.
Go here to visit the blog to find out what’s coming next.

And here’s a nice little video showing some of the people who do give a shit messing up. Everyone likes out-takes don’t they? Featuring David Nussbaum (CEO of WWF), Sarah Beeny, Terry Waite, Lewis Gordon Pugh (the guy who can swim in really cold water) and my personal favourite Chris Packham (who used to be in the Really Wild Show with the one and only Terry Nutkins). It’s not massively funny, it’s just quite nice.

Having said all of the above we’re not doing all that badly considering that everything we’re doing hardly costs a penny and there’s been no paid for media whatsoever :-)

I’m not doing this out of any kind of loyalty to Poke, I’m doing it because I’d like more people to sign the petition.

If you’re looking at this whole thing and thinking – “you guys are being a bunch of idiots, there’s a really simple way you can make this work, all you have to do is xyz…”. Then please leave a comment or get in touch. I’ll make sure that you get fully recognised and lauded as a saviour of planet earth sometime in the future.

All thoughts and opinions welcome…

10 thoughts on “Making Good Shit Stick Is Tough”

  1. You could have made the petition blog-embeddable, widgety if you will.
    So that people that blog, and care for the environment, can have their audience sign up right from their blog instead of some-other-site-they-don’t-have-time-to-visit-right-now.

    And they (bloggers) could give their own reason they think their audience to sign up. So you end up with loads of “personalized” messages that serve one common goal: the environment, or global cooling, whatever you want to call it.

  2. Nice thought. Unfortunately the petition bit is outside of our control.

    I’m a big fan of the though of distributed widgety campaigning though!

  3. Have you thought of faking signatures :)

    We’re just about to put a ‘distributed widgety campaign live’ actually – it’s our first project going live so we’re very excited. Will send you it when it’s live.

  4. It’s difficult one, and I’m not sure what can changed to make it more effective at this stage. People generally have the attention span of a goldfish, but I think it’s even lower than that online. If viewers aren’t engaged in the first 5 – 10 seconds they’re gone. I found the main video boring, and if you look at the number of views on the youtube videos, they’re pretty low so people aren’t sharing it with others. I’d say it feels like the video is targeted at people who are already active about environment / global warming issues.

    For someone who isn’t (like me), it’s an effort to watch the video, then question why the bil isn’t strong enough, go and have a look (because I don’t like to sign things I don’t understand) and decide to sign it – it quickly occurs like a lot effort for a short attention spanned creature, particularly when the following post in my reader looks like it has a bright and shiny picture of something odd and entertaining…

    Looking closer, I really like the idea of the giant paper plane and boat – if there is anything you could do to have the video revolve around that idea as well as the petition you may have something. Also the second video on the post is much better, the people are more natural and their passion for the cause shows, which makes a huge difference! The main video feels like their passion is tuned down for the sake of acting or professionalism (one thing that makes it boring, I find), but that’s one really important thing viewers can relate and respond to quickly.

    I hope there’s something useful you can take out of my blurb here! Otherwise, I just signed the petition ;o)

  5. Ask people to create their own videos about their experience or concerns about climate change as well as signing the petition.

    ‘Names on a giant plane’ is exactly what MP’s will expect to see, it’s a dressed up petition. What would parliament NOT expect to see?

    It’s a nice idea to ‘get on board’ but perhaps it’s proved too subtle to really have any real impact.

    The climate change gravy train seems as potentially dangerous as the actual subject it aims to bring awareness too. WWF, as a one of the most recognised enviro-brands has a duty to be far more dogmatic than the average company trying to ‘do it’s bit’.

    All that prob makes little sense… ho hum

  6. Agreed with your overall sentiment, I would add to it that from a client perspective there isn’t an awareness of the forces you are talking about and client timelines have shrunk which adds yet another pain point to the process that you outlined.

    Then there is the pet hate of marketers who think that ‘viral’ (whatever they really mean by that) tends towards zero cost….

  7. My suggestion would’ve been “widgetising” the petition too.

    Like the idea of allowing bloggers to have their say too – I hadn’t thought of that one but it really gives people a reason to blog about it.

    The other thing I might have done it tart up the sign up process a bit. If I was rewarded for sign-up with an animation of my signature going on a plane or something, then maybe I’d be more likely to hit “FWD”…

  8. I found the out-takes more compelling as, at least for me, the issues in the ‘proper’ video are already known and compelling enough. So the out-takes made me laugh and enjoy enough to want to pass it on and then the petition URL too. I even signed the petition from here in Germany where I can feel smug that they’ve got masses of wind farms and recycling (and cycling).

  9. Hi Iain,

    We’ve finally finished our distributed widgety effort for ActionAid. (Follow link to my blog to have a look.)

    Would really appreciate your comments on the campaign. It’s the biggest thing we’ve done to date, I reckon…

    Hope all is well with you.



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