Social media, such as online communities, blogs, video and widgets, are redefining how Internet users engage the interactive world and, as a result, how marketers must approach multichannel campaigns.
“Seeing [social media] as part of a bigger campaign is entirely the right thing to do,” says Nick Moore, chief creative officer at Wunderman. “People who set out to do some social media don’t do as well as people who set out to do a complete campaign recognizing that there will be a social media component to it.”
Marketers must develop content engaging enough not only to be noticed and clicked on, he explains, but entertaining enough so that users will want to share it, which emphasizes the need for unique creative.
“Social media is not a paid medium — it’s an earned medium,” Moore says. “You can’t buy your way in, you have to earn your way in, and the way you do that is by often using other channels to become interesting and newsworthy and create a buzz and talk-about factor, and then the social media element starts to take off.”
Once users share the content, they instantly become brand ambassadors and invaluable assets to the marketer for future campaigns.
Though social media works best as part of a campaign rather than as a standalone channel and is generally launched in a campaign after traditional channels, it can also be employed at the front end to raise awareness of a product, Moore points out.
“You can also do it the other way around,” he explains. “If you’ve got a launch coming up, for example, you can use social media as your first activity to generate some buzz before you reveal the whole story.”
Brands such as Nortel, Nike and Patagonia recently employed viral video and social networking as part of larger campaigns to highlight brand initiatives:
Nortel first posted a video from an employee at a trade show that showed the kilowatt hours used by Nortel’s technology as opposed to their competitor’s. The video was well-received and Nortel followed up with an employee contest to create another video. Twelve entries were posted on Nortel’s internal blog and the three most voted-on videos garnered their creators a cell phone. Professionally produced commercials advertising Nortel’s greener products were released publicly immediately after the internal contest. In all, employee-generated videos received 25,000 views and 1,000 employees voted.
To coincide with the final rounds of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League tournament, Nike relaunched NikeFootball.com and partnered with digital media agency Eyeblaster to create a promotional video widget. The widget features international soccer stars and can be spread virally by users to social network pages and, once placed, can be updated automatically with new content. Banner ads promoting Nike Football used live photos of Nike-sponsored players from tournament games, and were posted minutes after photos were taken.
To promote its Common Threads Recycling Program, outdoor apparel company Patagonia Inc. created a video and MySpace page for the mascot of the garment-recycling campaign, Agent Timmy, played by comedian Timmy O’Neill. The video received over 50,000 views and Agent Timmy had nearly 6,000 MySpace friends. The campaign also included in-store signage, purchase of search engine keywords, and radio and television news coverage.