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Allowing Advocates of Social Causes to ‘Continue the Conversation’ Online

- September 24, 2010 - 0 Comments

Andy Whittaker talks with Cisco about Cisco Eos enablement of faster development time, increase in audience engagement and more.

  Andy Whittaker, Chairman and Founder of Dogwoof    dogwoof logo

We sat down with Andy Whittaker, Chairman and Founder of Dogwoof to get his perspective on how Cisco Eos has impacted his business. Today, Dogwoof has six sites on the Eos platform including, Dirty Oil, Good with Film, H2Oil, No Impact Man, South of the Boarder, and Videocracy.

Cisco: Welcome Andy. To give the readers a little background, can you tell us about challenges around your web infrastructure that motivated you to adopt a solution like Cisco Eos?

Andy: One challenge was: we did not want to sacrifice site quality for speed of development. We saw options where we could speed up development by making use of “cookie cutter” web designs—losing the uniqueness and compelling nature of our diverse subject matter across our web properties. On the other hand, we could spend more time and resources on each new property to ensure a quality appearance and user experience.  Neither option worked for us.

A second challenge was: unlike traditional film distribution, where every film release means creating a new audience and website that is never revisited, in the case of Dogwoof, once the film has been released; the associated community sites grow organically as additional social issues are addressed in new films.

Unfortunately, we found our audience was fragmented among social networking websites and message boards associated to our various movie titles; we needed a way to better connect these “Islands of Fans” both with us and with each other.

Cisco: What changed with respect to this quality v. development time dilemma as you started rolling out Eos powered sites?

Andy: As we began to work with Eos we found it provided the flexibly and customization we needed. It allowed us to make use of CSS, HTML, and JavaScript while the modular design environment gave us the ability to speed up development time. Soon we saw our development time halve.

Further, we were able to consult the Cisco Media Solution Group’s (CMSG) experts who, through their professional services organization, gave us further guidance in the area of web design. In partnership with CMSG, we came up with a number of “starter sites” which contain design elements we are able to reuse for consecutive websites. We are now seeing development time halve again.

Cisco: What have you seen change with respect to audience engagement since your Eos powered sites have gone live?

Andy: As I mentioned before, prior to adopting Eos we observed “Islands of Fans” that we couldn’t reliably engage with. This was a problem because fans of Dogwoof films are an incredibly active group of people, vocal and passionate about social and environmental issues, as a result we saw the value in deeper engagement.

The Eos platform allowed us to do a couple key things with respect to audience engagement. We could essentially aggregate the various third party fan destinations onto the Dogwoof branded Eos sites incorporating functionality like Facebook Connect and RSS feeds. Also using the native Eos community features we could effectively connect fans around the content they are passionate about.

We saw this materialize in our live events. We typically host events that align with the social causes addressed in our films.  Our fans concerned with that social cause would attend but the conversation would largely end there. By leveraging content from these events on our Dogwoof communities, we can continue the conversation virtually, long after the live event ends.

Adding these content centers within our communities increased the time users spent on our site and our user registration increased 10x as members joined the ongoing conversations.

Cisco: Did anything about using Eos surprise you?

Andy: The simplicity of the Eos mobile functionality comes to mind. Had this idea; Let’s give mobile devices to movie Directors at their premiers so they can upload pictures or post messages directly to a Dogwoof film website. We thought this was a future functionality that we would have to spend time and resources building. Instead it was available today with existing Eos technology.

Cisco: Do you have plans to leverage other Cisco Eos capabilities in the near future?

Andy: First, with the scalability and customization Eos offers, we are confident we can realize our vision of a “hub and spoke” model with our various branded film sites accessible off of our main Dogwoof site—bringing our audience back to our brand. As we build our audience reach through social media, we are looking to integrate this through the website in interesting and innovative ways to build engagement and stickiness.

Next, we want to further explore monetization opportunities. With the combination of effective audience engagement and understanding our audience, such as the ability to identify and track influencers we can start to better target merchandise to our audience.

About Dogwoof: Dogwoof, Good with Film is the leading UK film distributer specializing in social issue films: documentaries independent films and world cinema. Some notable Dogwoof titles include Oliver Stone’s, South of the Border, in theatres now, and Academy Award® nominated documentaries Food, Inc. and Burma VJ.

For more information on Dogwoof, Good with Film visit the company website.


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