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Community building and the Big Game with Kevin Flynn

3 min read

Brands & Campaigns

Today’s Q-and-A is with Kevin Flynn, one of the prime movers behind Motorola’s Ochocinco News Network that helped transform the Super Bowl last week in Miami. Kevin honed his expertise on President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, where he helped manage 18 State Blogs on the campaign’s Web site.  He’s now working on European social network strategies and a host of other community building projects.

How did your experience on Obama’s new media team prepare you for your work at Motorola?

The campaign conditioned me to work long hours with an intensity of mission very similar to Motorola. The coordination and speed with which ideas can go from someone’s lips to being live in front of millions of people online is also analogous.  I learned how to handle divergent views –- and angry customers –- with respect.  I also came to understand that successful communities share the same key tenets, regardless of what or who is being “sold.”  Trust is the most important of these, and as my blogger friend Liz Strauss, impressed upon me, you have to stop thinking sales and start thinking relationships.

Congratulations on the high-profile multimedia community you created for Super Bowl Week.  What was all the buzz about last week?

The Ochocinco News Network (OCNN) powered by MOTOBLUR(tm) was all about having fun. Chad Ochocinco joined other NFL stars Chris Cooley, Darnell Dockett, Ray Rice and the comedy team of Jake and Amir to deliver insider views, satire and real reporting. The team was on the Miami scene all week, at official Super Bowl events and on the party circuit. The site featured fresh video and photos daily, and the #OCNN hashtag pumped updates as they happened into the Twittersphere. After just one day, the media buzz around OCNN was robust, with outlets from ESPN to The Huffington Post reporting on the team’s antics, and the Miami Herald saying they were “covering Super Bowl Week like no one ever has.”

Are there takeaways from this experience that might benefit marketers at other companies?

There are amazing Web sites building software programs available these days that allow html novices like myself to create an online presence that would’ve cost a bundle just a couple of years ago. We produced a quick Grammy site last week and took it from idea to live with about 10 hours of work. The OCNN site involved more time, support and designer input, but still went from idea to live in just under two weeks.

Looking ahead toward your next project, are your community recommendations for Motorola Europe different than they are for the U.S. market?

I can’t comment on specifics since they’re still in planning mode, but the general considerations are different.  Because we had a vision of one Facebook community for all of Europe, I struggled at first to come up with how to handle language differences. With help from Eric Berlin, my editor at Technorati who also runs a startup aggregation firm called Forwerd Media, we came up with the idea to create a content aggregation widget that visitors can customize by country, language and media preferences such as sports, music, social networks and news feeds. Instead of having to leave their Facebook page to go their favorite sports teams’ sites or popular European social networks like Tuenti or Skyrock, European users can have it all in the widget, making their online lives more organized. The benefit to us is having a branded widget that users’ friends and fans can see, grab it and make their own, thereby spreading the Motorola brand virally around the Web.