The Content Bar: Michael Balkind

The Content Bar: Michael Balkind


The entrepreneur

Michael Balkind launched JHB Live ten years ago. Since then, he has mastered the art of building online communities and creating meaningful online content that consumers can really relate to. “Anyone can flood the digital world with content,” he says. “The real question is whether your customer cares about that content. Does it mean anything to them?” This understanding of consumer/brand interaction has led directly to the development of Mobflashing, a stand-alone product and supplier to The Content Bar, Balkind’s digital agency that has branched out into brand activations in its quest to create kick-ass content.

The idea

“JHB Live really pioneered event photography,” says Balkind. “Once the digital age caught up and anyone could post images on Facebook and Twitter in real time, we needed to innovate again. We started introducing funky props that people could pose with, and from there we set up photo booths – these weren’t just images posted onto the Web anymore. It became an experience.” Mobflashing was the natural development of this idea. “Our first Mobflashing campaign was for Vodacom. We set up a ‘Player 23’ booth at rugby games that included speech bubbles and big props and fans could get their photos taken for free.”

The differentiator

The beauty of the Mobflashing product is that it’s linked to all digital platforms. The moment a photo or video is taken it can be uploaded, posted and shared on a variety of social networking sites, all at the touch of an interactive screen button. Each Mobflashing booth comes standard with an Internet connection and user-friendly instructions, all based on software that The Content Bar has developed. “People want to share their experiences,” says Balkind. “This product works because everyone wins: the branding remains front and centre, but brand fans are creating content that means something to them – which in turn means they share it. It’s instant storytelling, broadcast live.”

It’s all about the ‘stickiness’

Content creation is truly effective if it’s being shared. Another example is based on Vodacom’s ‘every day I’m shuffling’ campaign. Mobflashing booths were set up at malls around the country, and brand fans could create a music video of themselves, dressed up, dancing to the song. The videos could be downloaded to their mobile phones immediately, which meant they were shared with friends. Over 6 000 videos were shared over and over again — the community did the work.

Where it’s at

At this point, Mobflashing supplies The Content Bar with an additional and experiential product that the digital agency can offer its corporate clients as part of a broader digital and content creation strategy. It’s also available to private clients for weddings, events and even at clubs. Themed photo booths are set up at the venue, and all images can be printed and shared in an instant.

Vital Stats

Player: Michael Balkind
Company: The Content Bar (2005)
Mobflashing (2011)
Concept: Real time fun-filled photo and video generation