The New Rules Of Digital Engagement

“The rules of engagement are still being reset. How will you engage?”

Rob Davis, from OgilvyOne New York, kicked off a panel at Social Media Week New York, focused on the evolving creator landscape and how brands can engage, by explaining how society is still coming to grips with the digital revolution…but not everyone is sitting around waiting.


There are new rules of digital engagement. Created by creators. And thankfully we have an inside view.

The rules:

  • Pure passion trumps production. Every single creator said you have to be passionate, or else. It has become more meaningful than the types of content because the online ‘party’ is the connection, not the production.
  • Community is King. 20% of superfans drive 80% of engagement and traffic for successful creators.
  • Be engagement driven, not hit driven. Creators and community members live by the same rules and are participatory. They collaborate and the level of engagement further empowers the creators.
  • Think small to be big: None of the successful creators Rob Davis surveyed said they wanted to be “big”; instead they set out to create content they are passionate about, and inadvertently became famous by serving a segment.
  • Make universes, not content. Focus on creating a brand experience rather than tailoring content to each social media channel. This will streamline production and ease platform navigation.
  • Revenue grows when it disappears: creators welcome the right brand messages but are willing to turn away the ‘wrong’ brands if it risks authenticity. The creators keep the community at the heart of the business and put brands second. Let go of interruption so it includes the audience via the creator’s voice.
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[Read the full Red paper, The Digital Social Contract]

Next Davis was joined by Ana Kasparian, John Iadarola and Chris Puckett, all from The Young Turks Network, who shared thoughts on how their new style of content has created super fans:

  • The relationship with their audience is built on truth and storytelling. Ana Kasparian said, “Our number one priority is truth telling.” And she revealed how The Young Turks never have teleprompters because they want to have a conversation with their audience.
  • The Young Turks have ‘superfans’. Some helped fund the building of a new studio via an Indiegogo fundraising initiative whilst other avid fans are willing to pay a premium for the content. Furthermore, John Iadarola, co-host of the show, was originally a ‘superfan’. He was discovered as an (unpaid) content contributor before being brought on as an official employee.
  • The advertising needs to be entertaining and interesting to the audience. The hosts and production team asked themselves, “How can the advertising not disrupt so much?” The advertising is content-first, rather than brand-message first so that it adds to the culture of the show and creates a seamless user experience.
  • The Young Turks have turned down potential sponsors (e.g. for-profit colleges) because they weren’t a good fit for the show. Kasparian explained, “There are certain things [sponsors] that we just don’t touch. You have to do a cost-benefit analysis and see if an opportunity is worth it.”
  • The Young Turks started out on satellite radio and confessed “it was a little scary” when they made the switch to digital-only. YouTube’s advertising options, combined with The Young Turks’ ongoing membership database, saved the day.

This piece was originally published on [email protected]’s Social That Sells blog

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