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November 6, 2015

Mobile app engagement: what dance act Rudimental can teach your enterprise

Analysis: Engagement is about authenticity, whatever field you are in.

By Alexander Sword

CEOs don’t generally look to chart-topping electronic dance acts for inspiration on engaging their customers or employees.

But the man behind the fan app used by dance act Rudimental thinks that the same rules for mobile engagement apply in both the entertainment industry and the corporate world.

The app is simple, explains Disciple Media founder and CEO Benji Vaughan. Rudimental, which this year played Glastonbury and collaborated with megastar minstrel Ed Sheeran, use their devices to create media content such as photos, videos and audio, then share them with their fans through the two-way app.

"There’s one side which is for the artist or client. They can get content to their audience in three ways: from a phone, laptop or through a CMS."

The fan then receives the content directly to their phone, and can access real-time streams from the band as well as get exclusive early access to upcoming releases.

"I think in a world where there is basically limitless content, the thing that is always going to be scarce is actual real access to whatever you are passionate about, whether it is Cara DeLavigne, Manchester United or Rudimental," says Vaughan.

However, Vaughan adds, the technology will work for "anyone who has a strong brand, a large and engaged audience, and an audience they feel is sticky enough that they will migrate from third party platforms to their own platform."

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Vaughan explains: "If the company is a consumer-facing company and it wants to drive sales through mobile, my belief is that mobiles make poor shops. It’s always going to be the equivalent of a little corner shop with too many things in it which you can’t find.

"If you want to drive sales through mobile you have to create great experiences to drive people to engage with that experience, and then offer a product on the back of it.

"Much in the same way, if you look at bands’ histories of selling merchandise, their websites never sold any, because there was no reason for the fan to go to that website other than to buy merchandise.

"Brands need to take that lesson. If they are consumer-facing they need to think about who they can find in terms of talent to work with to create experiences that we can drive sales through."

The second use Vaughan sees for the technology is closer to home: engaging employees.

"Secondly, they can use the technology as a tool for engaging their employees.

"We were recently approached by a Swiss pharmaceutical company that wanted to use the basic format as a tool to push content to employees, have employees communicate amongst themselves and get messaging from different areas of the company.

"For instance, when the CEO wants to do a weekly broadcast to the team, instead of somewhere else it is done through a channel branded by the company."

What about the contents of this engagement?

"If you want to drive genuine engagement, you need to be authentic. Any audience, whether a band’s audience or an employee audience, will disengage if they feel that they’re getting an angle and not getting genuine content."

It’s not just about the content itself; it’s also about how it’s delivered, adds Vaughan.

"Don’t generate too much content. You want to create just enough content that the notification that you get when you receive content has a scarcity to it that you respond to.

"You don’t want to create so much that people start thinking they will get another post in 20 minutes. It’s not like being on social media where the only way to maintain presence is to bombard people with content."

Musicians have the kind of relationship with their fans that most companies can only dream of having with their customers, or their employees for that matter. Maybe it’s time to try and learn why.

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