For something to succeed online, it’s not enough for it to be good – someone has to want to share it, according to June Cohen, executive producer of TED Media.
TED is the non-profit organisation which has brought over 900 inspirational talks to a worldwide audience through a creative commons licensed website. Cohen discussed TED’s evolution from a single conference into a global media platform at Mashable Connect recently. Nick Cicero of On Ideas shares her thinking.
TED discovered early on that the nature of its content created scores of like-minded individuals eager to spread ideas themselves. Cohen outlined TED’s strategy towards taking these ‘ideas worth spreading’ and inspiring a community of discovery and change.
1. Feed the hunger for participation
People want to be a part of something bigger. For TED, the desire to scale to a global level was enabled by an empowered community who were ready and willing to translate talks into different languages.
To date, TED Talks have been translated into 86 languages through volunteer efforts.
2. Encourage sharing
There are 1,200 TED Talks online that have been viewed collectively more than 800,000,000 times. Cohen explained that the widespread use of social media naturally played a part in this process. Cohen said:
“Online users are exquisitely vulnerable to distraction.”
With a rise in mobile, TED embraced the trends of its community and purposely designed its online talks to be optimized for the small screen, cut long introductions and started videos strong. TED also made sure videos were framed close to the speaker’s face. That allows mobile phone viewers to see the emotion of what’s being communicated.
TED videos can also be watched through many devices, embedded, downloaded as free podcast, etc. By embracing open (free) models it aims to reduce the barriers between the ideas and its intended audience.
3. Listen to your users
Your users will usually be the ones to give you your best ideas. They’re the ones interacting in the space in ways a brand may not have imagined unless they actually listen. Cohen said:
“We don’t have a monopoly on good ideas”
Many of the best ideas for TED and its expansion have come from how it listens to requests from the community.
Ask yourself, what do you really need for your company? What do your users want?
4. Reach people everywhere (not just online)
How do you engage your community beyond a piece of online content?
The success of TED talks fuelled a demand by individuals to have their own TED talks and bring the positive message to their part of the world. Instead of allowing it to happen on its own, TED embraced this desire and created the TEDx platform.
This TEDx umbrella gives individual communities the power to come together and host their own TED-like events. For TED, this ensures its message continues to flourish in the way it intended.
5. Don’t forget to tell a story
At the heart of great media are great stories.
Compelling and diverse content presented in a variety of interesting ways keeps people engaged. What are you creating for your brand’s audience? Does it provide some value that warrants their time?
What is TED?
TED is a non-profit organisation devoted to ideas worth spreading. It started in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from the three worlds of technology, entertainment and design. Since then its scope has become ever broader and includes the TED Talks website where more than 900 inspirational talks are now available, with more added each week.
Follow Nick Cicero on Twitter @nickcicero
Follow June Cohen on Twitter @junecohen
This article originally featured in issue 34 of Jisc Inform (UK web archive)