Leveraging social media channels to drive buzz about a campaign has been the Holy Grail of marketing over the past year, and it's easy to see why. With social working full tilt, a brand no longer necessarily needs to spend millions of media dollars to create effective advertising. The playing field has indeed been leveled.
Of course, to reap the rewards, a brand first has to take a chance and empower its social channels with the legitimacy of more responsibility and higher expectations. Social is no longer a cheerleader repeating the message, and it's not just a substitute being saved for a crucial spot in the campaign. Your social channels, if properly utilized, deserve a place on field from the start.
Social surprises and captivates. It's fast and fluid. And, when done right, we stand up and cheer -- whether it's our work or not. The key is to use original content to capture a moment, an opportunity, or a promise, and then trust your audience will turn that spark into a flame.
Big advertising and big media will always be a big driver, but social has opened up the door for effective marketing with less. Here are a few examples of inherently social campaigns that rose above the clutter by finding a fresh angle to spread their message.
Millions of dollars were spent on Super Bowl spots this year, yet Esurance scored as one of the most talked about companies of the night by running a savvy social end-around. The campaign encouraged fans to tweet using #EsuranceSave30 all week after the Super Bowl for a chance to win the $1.5 million saved by running its ad after the game instead of during it.
According to Topsy, #EsuranceSave30 has been used more than 3.8 million times.
A bold idea, well packaged and fully committed to, can speak louder than big media bucks.
Newcastle's "If We Made It"
This campaign features great video content that showcases the "mega huge game day ad" Newcastle would have made, you know, if it could afford to.
Newcastle also created short videos showing how the brand would make commercials of competitor brands differently, if they could afford it. The social team live-tweeted these unique video pieces live during the Super Bowl to steal the conversation away from featured commercials and turn it toward the brand's mock ads.
Position your brand as "one of the gang," and you can join in the conversation about other brands.
Red Bull's "Revolution in Sound"
Just a few months back, Red Bull Media hosted the first-ever live concert in all 30 capsules of the London Eye Ferris Wheel. Each capsule featured famous artists and DJs who entertained the partygoers. This once-in-a-lifetime experience had each pod feeling like the world's most exclusive nightclub.
Red Bull teamed up with a YouTube partner to stream the events happening in all 30 pods for users to watch at home. The concert drove massive social buzz and has many still talking about the hottest party of the year.
Whenever possible, celebrate your audience by inviting them into the inner circle. "Velvet rope," RIP.
Wren's "First Kiss"
What happens when you get 20 strangers to kiss each other on camera? Apparently over 60 million YouTube views, which earned media coverage from countless media outlets and a top trending topic on Twitter.
Wren's "First Kiss" video campaign helped the brand gain massive recognition in the digital space simply by filming ten couples kissing each other then sharing the finished video with its editorial partners. Although no official stats on sales have been released, this video certainly had many searching the internet for more information on this brand with the fresh POV.
The authenticity of human emotions playing out in real time generates an irresistible spark. Successfully tapping into fundamentals of the collective human experience is the silver bullet.
Keane's "Personalized Music Video"
In an attempt to re-engage its fan base while promoting its latest album release, the music group Keane released a personalized music video generator app on its Facebook page.
The application pulls in popular photos from your Facebook news feed and shows them in a highly designed video with a popular Keane song playing in the background. Users are able to share the music video with friends across their social networks. Although no numbers have been released, the video generator was great fun regardless of how big a Keane fan you are.
So long as music is a powerful social driver, a personal soundtrack will be narrative gold.
Never doubt that in today's "on the go, phone-in-hand" lives, social is the glue that connects brand initiatives with an audience -- fans and new consumers alike.
Without social prodding the conversation, messages don't spread far or last long. Enthusiasm has proven to have more reach than the dollar; the key is presenting your brand in a fresh light, with a voice that stands out in a crowded world.
And when it comes time to make the call, rest assured that social channels, when properly fueled with strategic content and messaging, can do the heavy lifting usually entrusted to other media.
"Young pretty woman holding social icon balloon" image via Shutterstock.