Oscar Wilde said, "Work is the curse of the drinking class."
In Ireland, the local pub is where people stop at the end of the day to see their friends, catch the latest gossip, and relax with a cold pint. Facebook is the local pub of the Millennial generation.
Marketing in pubs is prevalent, elegant, and clandestine. It's all about product placement, not pop-up ads. Pubs are not about eyeballs and impressions; they are about conversations and engagement. Pub marketing is the secret to winning influence on social media.
Interruption marketing techniques of old commercial advertising are not part of pub culture. When was the last time you were in a bar and a salesman came over and interrupted your conversation? That's not to say there isn't great marketing in pubs. It's all around you in the form of product placement.
So why aren't consumer brands treating Facebook the way Guinness and Budweiser treat the pub? Because Facebook marketing is so new. If the only tool you own is a bullhorn, everything in marketing looks like a shouting match. Therein lies the key to dominating Facebook marketing.
The first emotion washing over patrons sauntering into their "local" is a relaxing "welcome home" to a safe place. In fact, in the days of Irish oppression, the pub was literally the only place residents could go to get news on the revolution, find out political maneuverings, and hear the latest battle updates. Nowadays, you walk in to a melodic song, get a few familiar hellos, and sit down for a scoop of Guinness. The intention is much different than going out shopping with your spouse. Accordingly, you have a totally different, more vulnerable mindset at the pub.
In the safe haven of your local, you don't expect a car salesman to jump in front of you and start a pitch like a real-life pop-up ad. If he did, you would be especially upset at the interruption of your "me" time. However, when you go to Costco or Sainsbury's to shop with your spouse, you're mentally ready to try a sample of organic pigs in a blanket. Your intent is to shop. Nobody logs on to Facebook looking to shop. It's the local pub of the internet -- people want to relax and see what is happening. Marketers have to understand this context and be subtle and thoughtful.
With this attitude of Facebook as a meeting place, not a mall, social media marketing should approach consumers from a different perspective. Take a page from the Guinness handbook. It's not at all about banner ads and video promos; it's all about social media product placement.
What do the taps behind the bar at your local pub say? Harpoon, Smithwick's, Carlsberg, Budweiser...if you're lucky Sierra Nevada. What does the neon sign on the wall say? Maybe it's the countdown to St. Patrick's Day with the Guinness logo underneath it. Maybe it's a big poster for the Heineken Cup rugby competition. And the cardboard tents on the table with the scantily clad women and wing specials? You guessed it: Bud logo at the bottom. All of these tactics have been successful for years because of the subtlety of product placement in a pub. You'll never see a guy in a green and blue plaid jacket jumping up and down in between folks shouting about the Ford dealer's excess inventory that really must go! (This is the equivalent of banner ads.) Shouting on social doesn't work, so put away the bullhorn.
If you want to be successful with Facebook marketing, and social media marketing in general, think about creative ways to get your product logo in front of people where it is authentic to the environment or story. Marketers have been taught to tell a story. The next stage of evolution is letting your clients tell the story, while your brand happens to be weaved into it.
The pub has evolved to become a fixture in the community over a period of years. Pub marketing has evolved over the past several generations as well. So how do you take advantage of the same psychology of influence in the pub, but do it on the pub of the Millennial generation (i.e., Facebook)?
For brands to win at social media marketing, they must unobtrusively get products or logos placed on the timelines or news feeds of their fans. If you have an event your brand sponsors or your brand has a presence in the real world, that is the perfect place to start. You can hire a photographer to post pictures up to all the attendees' Facebook pages and superimpose your logo in the corner. There are also fixed photo booths that allow you to overlay celebrities or backgrounds like magazine covers, then make the photos one-of-a-kind and post them immediately to a guest's Facebook or Twitter account. If you want to add a competitive element, set up a game by incorporating a trivia kiosk at your next event that challenges the people attending to see who can be the day's champion. That's how you fuel engagement -- and insert your branding at the same time.
A winning social media strategy -- just like a good pub --- is not built overnight. Social media networks are still evolving. We are at the stage of wooden kegs and The Three Stooges as delivery guys.
Picture the flurry of bartending activity in a typical pub. The web holding the pub together is made up of threads of order taking, running credit cards, washing glasses, checking on clients, changing kegs, opening bottles, and cleaning the bar. All of these practices are learned and begin with some neophyte awkwardness. A bad bartender fails to seamlessly perform the tasks at hand. Social media is the same -- marketing professionals are just getting comfortable tapping the social media keg. Failure, experience, change, and investment: All of these make a great bar and a great bartender. The same is required for social media, so smart brands are learning from their mistakes and other brands.
After the fits and starts of MySpace and Friendster, Facebook solidified the key real estate and the place where everyone is comfortable meeting. Now it's time to embrace marketing with true influence and effectiveness in that environment. It's time to start planning social media product placement.
Patrick Sweeney is the president and CEO of dwinQ.
On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.
"Draft beer pour in a glass" image via Shutterstock.
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