How to ‘Do The Internet’ with Little Boots and Imogen Heap

Imogen Heap - Tour Shenanigans (part 1)

There’s lots that us try-hard webby / advertising folk can learn from these young ladies about how to ‘do’ social networks and audience engagement.

I hate myself for even writing about this stuff in ‘those’ terms. The words ‘audience engagement’ give me a strange bile-y sensation in the back of my throat. In both of these cases I’d chow down on a family bucket of Kentucky Fried Hat if someone had set out with a cyncial objective of how to engage audiences. What makes this stuff good is that you can tell this is what they enjoy doing. It’s what they love. You get the sense they’d be doing it whether they were flogging 10 records or 10 million records.

And that’s the stuff you can’t fake. Well not without expensive directors and decent actors and catering trucks and heavy editing.

Both of them have amazing videos on YouTube. They both feel totally natural. They don’t give a hoot that their clips aren’t 100% perfect. And they feel like we’ve been given a real window into their musical world. Their videos have got music and talent at the core, but the edges are the bits that give you personality, quirkiness and ultimately likability.

I’ll start with Little Boots, because she’s got a Tenori-On and can play it better than anyone else I’ve ever seen, check this Hot Chip cover, make sure you wait for the vocals to start.

It feels so accessible (like she’s used the same kind of camera, computer and mic that lots of us have) yet the talent and quality shine through.

She takes suggestions for her Funtime cover versions via MySpace (or YouTube). And manages to go far and wide with what she delivers. Including her take on Happy Hardcore anthem ‘Heart of Gold’

I’m also a big fan of the fact that she uses the supporting YouTube text really well. So many people hardly even bother. And it makes a difference. It properly helps to cement the whole story and rams it home that this isn’t a YouTube channel that’s being looked after by a label-monkey. For example:

this is a song i’d long forgotten about till recently… i’ve been getting back to my blackpool roots a bit lately, spent much of my teen years listening to bonkers compilations 1 through 5 so here is a classic… heart of gold… such a sad song when you think about it!!! i’m not sure how well know it is to the rest of the world but anyways…. sorry the tenorion isn’t loud enough but didn’t wanna wake my housemates up! my fav bit is where it rhymes ‘just’ with ‘justify’ in the same line. genius.

Admitting listening to the Bonkers Compilations is about as ‘real’ as you can get ;-)

There’s some more text that expertly disses a twatty comment on the same clip. It’s a wee bit rude so I’ve not copied it here.

And she’s got a website with a blog and a Facebook page which includes a seemingly exclusive Facebook exclusive – a Tenori-On version of Stuck on Repeat which is an amazing track (the Fake Blood mix is especially good music fans). EDIT: And I just spotted it’s also the FREE single of the week on the UK iTunes Store.

And furthermore if you sign up for her mailing list you can get a rather smashing free mixtape. It’s like Christmas all over again!

Enough Little Boots hype. On to Imogen Heap. Her vBlog as she calls it, is totally different. She rambles on and on and on and comes across as totally loopy most of the time. But through all the insanity you can’t help but smell brilliance and a sincere passion for the music and what she does.

I’ve got a feeling she’s the kind of person who might annoy some people with her slightly dithery-middle-class-niceness. But I find it quite charming, in 10 minute chunks at least.

What I especially like about is that she’s been leaking out bits and bobs of her new album. But it’s literally playing fragments of songs as they’re in development (when you get to about 3 mins in you’ll see what I mean), so there’s no way that pirates can rip it off, but it gets the work out there in a really nice way. And from looking at all the comments you can see how much anticipation the clips are managing to build.

And she gives Etsy a mention too, which is nice.

And there’s a website, a Facebook, a MySpace. And they all do their individual jobs well.

So what are the things we should learn from them:

  • Keep it real – be yourself. There is no template for this stuff so don’t try and create the thing that you’re ‘supposed to do’ on YouTube.
  • Get the audience involved in what you’re doing
  • Imperfection is OK (actually much better than OK, it’s good, it’s human, it’s real)
  • Use all the tools out there – and use them with each other, use them for things they’re good at
  • Post regularly
  • Give away free stuff when you ask people to sign up for something

All things we’ve all heard before. But nice to see a couple of decent ‘case studies’ out there. Yuk. There goes the bile-y taste again. They’re not bloody case studies, they’re people doing awesome stuff. Well done ladies. Sorry for tainting your good names with marketing gobshite.

12 thoughts on “How to ‘Do The Internet’ with Little Boots and Imogen Heap”

  1. I too get almost teary-eyed taking in the sheer authenticity of these gals, and feel like I need a shower, being in the business I’m in.

    But these kind of things (there are a zillion examples) have started to lead me to the opposite conclusion: Don’t even try to go there.
    Brands being present on these networks is by definition unauthentic.
    Consider the two statements in your conlusion: “Be authentic” and “imperfection is OK”.
    If you’re being authentic as a big brand with a big media budget, shouldn’t whatever you do better damn well be perfect? ‘Cause if it’s not, it will seem like you tried on purpose to get it imperfect, making you unauthentic.
    It’s such a thin line that I’ve given up trying to include these kind of tactics.

    However, when they happen organically it’s the most wonderful thing. On a brand level there are numerous brand fan pages on FB started by real fans with thriving communities. On a campaign level consider the amount of fan pages the Cadbury gorilla has.

    I think the only, but hardest, option that’s left on both levels, is to be so damn good that people are incited to do all this for you.

  2. I am hooked on Little Boots now. I love playing with music, so looked into the Tenori-On. £699??? I will wait for now (recession…blah blah…). I wonder what it would be like to hear a 20-band orchestra using them. Could be, magic or very, very tragic.

  3. I like the way that Imogen Heap is clearly sitting at the bridge of the Starship Enterprise with a hologram of a suburban living room behind her. Clever.

  4. I’m afraid that I want to hit Imogen Heap with a big stick and make her stop. But I love Little Boots and her Tenori-On.

  5. ehehehe my mate leo was immi’s first guitarist – i went to their first gigs and that – she’s a bit loopy indeed but brilliant.

    rockON> [appropriately enough],…

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