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The Holy Grail of Social Media: Creating Relevant Content in Real Time

The curious thing about social media marketing is that there is no right way to do things. There’s no wrong way, either. It’s still very much the Wild West – with no Sheriff in sight.

I wrote earlier this year about the Oreo “Dunk in the Dark” tweet as the most-talked-about branding execution of the Super Bowl. This one tweet in fact amplified the conversation around “Real-Time Social Marketing” – with nearly every conference of the year including some panel discussion about the hot topic.

However, real time marketing isn’t new; we’ve just never had the tools to make it as easy as it is now. If anything, Disney recognized the power of original, brilliant real-time marketing during major events – including the Super Bowl – before social media existed. For instance, the “I’m going to Disney World!” spots, which would air immediately following national sports championships with in-game footage and jubilant cry, represents a simpler era in real time marketing. 

Times have changed, and it’s now much simpler and less expensive to create content in real time that can be buzz worthy. Yet, as brands try to insert themselves into the conversation of non-branded events, one has to ask if they should. Everything from the birth of Prince George, to the anniversary of September 11, to the finale of Breaking Bad sees brands trying to catch the lightning-in-a-bottle effect that Oreo captured in February. Such activity begs the question though: What is the exact relevance?

I’m not suggesting brands should stop, because it’s well known they won’t. Brands must, however, think about what makes sense for what it already stands for as well as its target demographic. Like PR, there is a time and place to be part of the conversation, but it shouldn’t be for every single event. For instance, Chips Ahoy tweeting about The Walking Dead just doesn’t fit in.

What might make more sense is for Hyundai, which is a sponsor for The Walking Dead, to tweet about its car and marketing campaign tied to the show. While Chips Ahoy is trying to be a part of the buzz without being an official sponsor, it doesn’t come across as an authentic, unique and relevant integration. Instead it feels like a brand forcing itself on you and, in some circumstances, embarrassing themselves.

At the end of the day, the Holy Grail of digital, social, and really all marketing/PR initiatives is to achieve the “viral” recognition – for the right reasons. So very few achieve it, and more brands achieve it for the wrong reasons.  While that doesn’t mean not to try, it needs to be an acceptance of all the varying factors that play into viral success – many of which are completely out of your control. There is no one formula for success (or failure) but with a little bit of luck, you might just pull off something amazing.  

Moustache + November = Movember

I am not a man (hopefully that goes without saying), but I imagine that shaving one’s facial hair isn’t necessarily a favorite pastime. So what could be better than having a legitimate reason to go “au naturel” for a whole month? I know that for some baby-faced men out there it may not be the most exciting way to celebrate November, but for seasoned veterans like Tom Selleck there really couldn’t be a better way to stand up for one’s fellow man.

For those who don’t know, Movember is a month-long awareness and fundraising campaign for men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer and depression. The program originated in Australia, and now has its own web sites across the globe, with a strict set of rules for participants:

  1. Once registered at Movember.com each “Mo Bro” must begin the 1st of Movember with a clean shaven face.
  2. For the entire month of Movember each Mo Bro must grow and groom a moustache.
  3. There is to be no joining of the moustache to your side burns. (That’s considered a beard.)
  4. There is to be no joining of the handlebars to your chin. (That’s considered a goatee.)
  5. Each Mo Bro must conduct himself like a true country gentleman.

Since its inception, many have reinterpreted and expanded Movember to include “No Shave November” and “Novembeard,” but no matter how men choose to show their pride and support the cause, it’s hard to deny that Movember is one health campaign that has truly gone viral (see what I did there?). In 2010, Movember’s numbers nearly doubled across the board, with more than 440,000 new registrants (men and women—Mo Sistas) and raised funds of more than $80.7 million. Overall, the campaign has raised $174 million and has 1.1 million registrants since it was officially established in 2004. As we near the end of 2011, and the middle of Movember, the brotherhood shows no signs of slowing down.

Movember is proof that campaigns infused with humor—despite the circumstances—can help make the word a better place. So Mo Bros, get out there and flaunt your finest facial hair. Or if you can’t grow your own, there are always these Mo Sista favorites.

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