Let Your Audience Peek Behind the Curtain

Behind the glass paneled doors that separated the TimesCenter from the bright lights and bustling streets of New York’s Times Square District stood hundreds of people waiting to see Perez Hilton.
 
The celebrity gossip maven was scheduled to appear on a panel at New York’s Advertising Week, the annual gathering of marketers and communication strategists.
 
But it was clear that much of the crowd wasn’t lined up to learn something new. Instead, they wanted to see what the candid celebrity might say–or do.
 
And the self-absorbed, self-unaware Hilton delivered, taking a selfie on stage and making an ill-timed remark about another panelist’s nether region. After the panel, he stopped to pose with every member of the crowd who wanted proof for their social media accounts that they were in his presence.
 
Why did the line to see Hilton zig-zag up and down and around TimesCenter? Because people wanted to know what Hilton is really like. They want an intimate look of the personalities that shape their lives.
 
There’s an app for that.
 

Photo Courtesy Stillwell Partners.

(L-R) Alex Cameron, John Sykes, Morgan Spurlock, James Yammouni, Jai Brooks, Beau Peter Brooks and Perez Hilton speak onstage at the Living in a Short Form World panel during AWXI on October 1, 2014 in New York City. Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for AWXI. Photo Courtesy Stillwell Partners.


 

Meet Alex Cameron

 
The desire to “peek behind the curtain” is what drives Keek, says Alex Cameron, the social network’s chief executive.
 

Alex Cameron. Photo Courtesy Keek.

Alex Cameron. Photo Courtesy Keek.


 
“If you’re thinking about sports, we’d rather be in the locker room,” Cameron says. “We’d rather show the pep talk, the camaraderie, the tone off the field.”
 
Keek is a mobile video platform that gives its 71 million users what Cameron calls “less-produced, more authentic” access to celebrities and brands. Videos are shared as status updates, interviews, comedic webisodes (or “Keekisodes,” as the company calls them) in 36 seconds or less. It’s shorter than the average video completion time on Facebook–44 seconds–but longer than a typical advertisement. While a brand could upload its latest media buy, that wouldn’t be the wisest use of the platform, Cameron says.
 
“When you put the same content across every social media channel, you will get reach and impressions,” Cameron says, “but it’s not the slam dunk. It’s better when there’s connective tissue between the platform and the content. I think brands are going to have to start thinking about each of their platforms individually.”
 
Cameron moderated the Ad Week panel that featured Hilton, along with Morgan Spurlock, the director and documentarian perhaps most famous for “Supersize Me,” and the Janoskians, a group of teenage boys whose comedy has become an international sensation (think “One Direction” but with pranks).
 
(L-R) Alex Cameron, John Sykes, Morgan Spurlock, James Yammouni, Jai Brooks, Beau Peter Brooks and Perez Hilton speak onstage at the Living in a Short Form World panel during AWXI on October 1, 2014 in New York City.  Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for AWXI. Photo Courtesy Stillwell Partners.

Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for AWXI. Photo Courtesy Stillwell Partners.


 

Meet Your Audience

 
With 44,000 followers, the Janoskians are one of the most successful “brands” on Keek. Perhaps one reason why is their audience; 60 percent of Keek users are 13-24 years old. That’s young for a social platform with global aspirations, but Cameron isn’t worried.
 
“If you look at YouTube and Facebook, they started out with the younger generation and then they expanded,” she says.
 
At Ad Week, the Janoskians joked that Keek is an attractive alternative to Facebook for the younger generation because “their parents aren’t on it.”
 
Cameron is confident that Keek will be able to adapt as its users age up and expand.
 
“As a new generation comes up, it is up to us to offer a broad and compelling proposition as to why they should use us,” Cameron says. “The features we serve up, the functionalities and the types of content–it’s up to us to evolve.”
 
Keek is angling to expand its in-house content production, and debuted its first original Keekisode series last month. Cameron is a savvy leader to pioneer the effort, cutting her teeth in original content production for Hot 97, a hip hop radio station based in Manhattan.
 
“We delivered a show that was syndicated,” Cameron recalled, “which can be a challenge because you’re delivering the same content to completely different audiences.”
 
The trick for Cameron at Hot 97 was how to connect with people by sharing a story that was relevant to them, no matter where they lived. And the approach she took in developing content for radio is part of her vision for Keek.
 
It’s also her biggest advice to brands struggling to tell their story.
 
“It’s about connecting on an emotional, relevant level,” Cameron says. “What might this particular group of people be worried about, and how can I identify with them? What kind of emotional relief can I give them?
 
“Stop thinking of them as consumers and start thinking of them as people. I think you’ve really got to respect them. When we feel respected and the time is taken to deliver something we appreciate, you get that aha moment.”
 
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Clara Ritger is an assistant producer at Green Buzz Agency. She writes and manages the GBA blog. She is a millennial whose go-to social apps do not (yet) include Keek. Find her on Twitter @clararitger.

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