How to make the most of online's frenzy to be first

How to make the most of online's frenzy to be first

The digital world has sparked a frenzy to be first, and it's a trend Webby Awards managing director Claire Graves says has risks and rewards for brands.

1. What is this frenzy all about?

The frenzy to be first is a movement of people rushing to be early adopters and trend setters online. We're seeing more and more people wanting to try products and services first or jump into social media conversations first to show that they're ahead of the curve.

2. Why does today's online environment make people strive to be first?

People are increasingly using self-publishing as a way to build a persona for themselves — showing themselves off as early adopters. Part of the 'cool factor' of being the first to try obscure foods or see interesting bands is the documentation of the event through Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Twitter and other social platforms.

3. What are the risks and rewards of being first?

For brands, there can be great rewards with being first. A company that launches a product first or has an interesting response to a trending conversation on social media is often remembered most for their innovative spirit or forward thinking. It is possible, though, for established brands to run the risk of being completely tone deaf in the rush to be a trend setter in the marketplace. Some companies are confusing real-time with relevance, and jumping into conversations without strategy or consideration.

Recently there's been a series of tragedies that seemed to attract a number of poorly executed social media engagements, especially around the time of the Boston Marathon bombing and the anniversary of the September 11 attack in New York City. Many brands, particularly on Twitter, seemed to inappropriately capitalise on tragedy, for example, selling items for $9.11.

4. How can companies effectively use 'firsters' to get their brand and message across?

Companies can tap into the frenzy to be first by marketing to early adopters, giving them a sneak peak or early access to new products and then equipping them with easy tools to share their experience — or bragging rights — on social media.