Fluff and bubble
How ephemeral moments can drive engagement
There is a phrase we often use at Augeo to distinguish between the meaningful, engaging, impactful experiences we create on behalf of our clients and what could be characterized as frivolous, shiny objects that attract attention, but have no lasting effect. "Fluff and bubble" are the things on which we place lesser value or significance.
A few weeks ago, a colleague of mine and some of her friends, staged an outdoor event in a large public park not far from our headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota. An outdoor event is nothing special, except it is the dead of winter in the Midwest and the temps hovered around 0 degrees. Who did they expect would bundle up and brave the cold to spend a "frivolous" afternoon at something called "Bubblefest"? The sole purpose of the event was to blow bubbles, or watch others blowing bubbles. Not exactly a substantive, compelling, value proposition. And yet, hundreds of people showed up.
They showed up with their families, friends, and co-workers. Most notably, they showed up with their kids. Tons of kids, in fact, from tots to teens to tweens. And why? To blow bubbles and watch other people blowing bubbles. I can't help but think there's more to this than meets the eye.
Why bubbles draw crowds and why we should care.
When you think about it, a bubble is truly a magical, time-sensitive, special event. You dip a circle-shaped wand into a liquid, hold it up to the wind or create your own by blowing on it, and amazingly, a paper thin, round object is born. The undulating object miraculously floats skyward for a few seconds and then it's gone. In the right light, it refracts every color of the rainbow. At the right temperature, around 16 degrees Fahrenheit, wondrous ice crystals form inside the bubble and it becomes an ephemeral work of art. With the right crowd (kids) it brings excitement, joy, laughter, participation and lasting memories - total engagement. Something we are quite passionate about at Augeo.
What we commonly use as a term for something unimportant and forgettable, in this case, is exactly the opposite. In fact, sometimes things that serve no intrinsic purpose or deliver no tangible value are important merely for the effect they produce. Something as basic as a bubble, an event that makes a child laugh, a parent smile, or forges a memory between friends, offers insights for marketers everywhere.
Lessons from the bubble:
1. Leverage the unexpected or fleeting moments to prompt interest and generate awareness. It's hard to be apathetic to a bubble. It's born miraculously. It has a limited, dramatic life. Observers cannot help but be intrigued by the impending demise of this fragile, delicate object. Use drama to create interest.
2. Nothing draws a crowd better than a crowd. People gather simply because others have shown an interest. Don't underestimate the power of "the group effect". People do things simply because others are doing it. FOMO drives engagement!
3. Intrigue, mystery and a plot line filled with twists and turns (like a bubble) help create memorable stories and foster "share-worthy" moments.
4. If kids love it, parents will follow. Leverage the love of kids to garner interest, participation, and loyalty from parents.
5. Celebrate unexpected moments to create lasting impressions. Bubbles in the winter were a bigger hit for the Bubblefest crew than their summer event because it was an unexpected experience.
Next time someone tries to dismiss your idea as just a shiny object or merely "fluff and bubble", stop and point out the lessons to be learned. No one can burst your bubble when it bubbles from within.