It took Bryan Kramer five days to write his book, "There is No B2B or B2C - It's Human to Human: #H2H," in which he gave wise advice to brands on how to bring back the human side of communication, in all its simplicity, empathy, and imperfection. Within eight weeks of self-publishing it on Amazon, it was in the top 1 percent. "The crowd told me, 'This is what I wanted to hear,'" said Kramer, the President and CEO of PureMatter.
As the first opening keynote speaker on day two of The Social Shake-Up 2014, he asked the audience to shout out some examples of brands that use simplicity, empathy, and imperfection in their communications. A few from the crowd yelled out Coke and Google for simplicity. For empathy, Zappos was shouted out. Kramer suggested airlines for imperfection. "See, I crowdsourced the answers," he joked.
So when does the crowd, become the crowd? What components of content shared in social make it "crowd worthy?" How does the crowd affect us?
"The wave in a crowd at a stadium only works with a crowd," Kramer said as an example. "It takes one person to set it off. It takes all of us to participate."
That's when he asked a gentleman at one end of the audience to stand up and start the wave. We all waved together one way across the Great Room and then waved back the other way.
You either belong to something or you don't. Viral, he said, is sharing and word of mouth. Why do crowds make things go viral? There are four secrets to it straight from a chapter of Kramer's #H2H book:
Secret No. 1: Have a simple human concept. A super example of this is the BatKid social campaign for a 5-year-old boy named Miles, whose wish to be a superhero was granted by the Make-a-Wish Foundation, with help from several thousand people in San Francisco. "One person wrote a blog about it, and more than 16,000 volunteers helped make it happen," said Kramer.
Secret No. 2: Have a structured plan, such as the one by Airbnb, the world's leading community-driven hospitality company. It released a shot-list over Twitter that anyone could film for submission. The crowd-dependent company debuted the first film made entirely of crowdsourced Vines.
Secret No. 3: Invite people to the party. "They want to be asked," Kramer said. "Ask people to help. Make it simple to share. Reward and thank them."
I know from experience that Kramer invites people to the party. A while back, I commented on his book after reading it, and it was very rewarding to get a personal tweet back from him. I tried to find the conversation on Twitter to share here with no success. Try it for yourself. If you scroll to the bottom of the SlideShare on "Four Secrets to Making Things Crowd Worthy" he gives several tweet examples to cut and paste (simple to share). You can also visit his H2H Share Page on his blog.
Secret No. 4: Apply the rules of improv. "I hated every job I had in high school and college because I wasn't able to create value," Kramer said. "I was just a machine, a sandwich maker. In retail, I'd ring people up. These are good skills to have. I'm not debating that we don't need these jobs. They just weren't good for the spirit and excitement I had. When I delivered pizza in college, people were excited and loved to see the delivery guy, but I wasn't making money, except maybe $1 to $2 at most as tips. But people were thirsty, and I thought 'Somehow I can do this.' I bought a pallet of two-liters of Diet Coke and Coke and loaded them into my 1984 Chevy Blazer. When I delivered two-liters with people's pizza, I'd get reactions like, "Whoa man, I didn't even order that." This increased my tips to $5 and $10. The unexpected value and law of improv that I applied led the crowd to take over. People started calling into the office asking where are their two-liters when they'd get a different delivery person. I was the only one adding the two-liter to orders. That simple thing I did really made a difference."
Let's sum things up with the viral ALS Ice Bucket challenge. It started with one person, Peter Frates, the former captain of the Boston College baseball team who was diagnosed in 2012 with ALS. It is a simple concept: dump ice over your head. There's a plan: You have 24 hours to complete it. Those who do the Ice Bucket Challenge must challenge (invite) three people to do it next. There's a sense of humor (improv) people show as they participate.
"Facts don't lie," said Robin Carey, Social Media Today's CEO, when she came back up to the stage after Kramer's presentation. "Businesses do not have emotion, people do. Humans need to connect with something bigger than themselves. Humans want to be included. Invite them to the party."