To make it a little easier for brands to navigate the treacherous social media terrain and tell their stories more effectively, Jonathan Hendriksen* launched Shuttlerock, a platform that lets businesses aggregate socially sourced content, photos and videos on their websites. And Lady Gaga’s even using it.
How did you come up with the idea?
One of the big opportunities for us in the early stages was that we recognised the most important digital asset for any business—be it a sports team or a company—is your website, because that’s where people come to engage with the brand. And we realised that there was nowhere for customers or fans to participate in or engage with traditional websites; it’s always been one way. One of our early customers was the All Blacks, and we created a platform for fans to engage better with the brand by uploading photos or videos. So Shuttlerock is really about creating platforms that allow customers to become part of the brand.
Does curation detract from the authenticity of social media correspondence?
Curation is just a part of what we do. We’re seeing that one of the weaknesses of social media is that it’s a free-for-all. At the end of the day, brands want to be able to have a little bit of control over the content. And that’s not to say it ruins the authenticity of it. I think it’s more about brands being able to filter out inappropriate content. And this also gives brands the ability to flag issues and then deal with them accordingly. Having the curation ability gives the brand a little more confidence to actively engage with the customer base on a wider scale, with the knowledge that there is a safety net in place.
Why are so many brands so bad at social?
From a branding perspective, social media is more about enabling customers and fans to be the ones that are telling the stories. That’s the key thing for us. We’re not so interested in what the brands themselves have to say, and I think that’s where the weakness comes in. Social media is very much that—it’s a social media form, and it’s all about what customers and fans think, do or experience with regard to a particular brand. It’s not what one person sitting in the social media department of a brand has to say.
New Zealand was recently chosen by the World Bank as the second best country in the world to do business. Is this accurate in your experience?
It’s a great place to do business. It’s incredible in the sense that you can set up a business so easily. It’s also a really good place to test a product or service, because most New Zealand companies are open to trying new technology. As a nation, us Kiwis are really up for new things. In saying that, New Zealand is also a very remote country, so that brings its own challenges when you want to take something global.
So how is that going?
We have an office in Tokyo now in a joint venture with a company called Opt, and we’ve also opened an office in Los Angeles, and we have a couple more international offices opening in the near future. We’ve got some great traction and things are going well.
Why do you think the new generation of media users is so eager to document everything?
More so than with any other generation that came before, the young ones today have tools that allow for visual communication … And this means that they can relay their experiences more easily. They don’t have to hype about these experiences; they can send a photo instantly, and then relay it to their friends. It’s just so easy. And I think that through the technology available now, this visual communication has become the norm.
When is the right time for a marketer to adopt a digital change?
The key thing is to look at your own lifestyle and realise how much time you spend on a smartphone. In our private time we are consumers ourselves … We’re in a mobile era and technology is moving quite quickly, and I think it’s quite important for marketers to embrace change. If you don’t embrace change, it’s pretty dangerous, because the companies that do embrace it will flourish.
*Hendrikson apologises profusely for his repulsive Movember-inspired appearance in the above photo.