5 Fresh Ideas for Social Media Marketers

by Jennifer Van Grove ( http://mashable.com/2009/08/28/social-media-marketing-ideas/ )

Social media may be for narcissists, but it’s also proving to be a business utility. Retailers are shifting their marketing dollars such that social media budgets are swelling, and creative contests are popping up all over the web. In case you haven’t noticed, social media marketing is big business.

Should you find yourself in a social media marketing lull, we think you can take inspiration from these five innovative and fresh ideas currently making their mark on both the online and offline worlds. The important thing to keep in mind is that whether you’re trying to engage a unique audience, tailor deals using location, advertise in new ways, go bold, or tackle your Twitter (Twitter) fear head on, you’re likely to find the most success if you can shake things up a bit.

1. Engage a Unique Audience with Themes

Mommy bloggers are all the rage, and there’s been significant uptake when it comes to big brands turning to influential moms in creative social media marketing campaigns. Instead of repeating a common pattern, Sony, decided to put their products into the hands of dads, a relatively under-utilized segment in the social media realm, and empower them to tell their own stories using Sony products.

With marketer Chris Brogan’s guidance, Sony created the DigiDads program to specifically target influential dads with a series of different projects where their unique take on gadgets and life could really add a little social media magic to the brand’s new products. The three-month campaign, launched in mid-August, provides dads with Sony products — televisions, PCs, DSLRs — on loan (they’re not being paid) that they will use to capture and share family experiences as part of their current social media use.

The campaign is so creative that it captured the attention of AdvertisingAge, and is likely to continue to make waves as the daddy bloggers produce their digital content. Sony took a now common practice of utilizing bloggers and put a fresh spin on it by crafting their initiative with an untapped audience in mind. It is certainly an interesting way to get consumers excited about electronics.

2. Deals for the New Generation

Coupons are not buzzworthy. The very nature of them makes them unappealing to younger generations of consumers who don’t want to deal with the hassle of coupon clipping. 8coupons is obviously hip to this fact, as they recently decided to take their discounts on the road, tap into the advantages of GPS-enabled phones, and leverage one of the hottest location-based mobile apps around — Foursquare.


The marriage between 8coupons and Foursquare served up some innovative deals to New Yorkers during the limited promotion period. Foursquare users received automatic notifications with discounts when they were within a 3 block radius of an 8coupon deal. The result is that deals were delivered to people when they could actually benefit from them, no clipping required.

As more phones become location-aware, the opportunity for location-based deals are endless. The ingenuity of the Foursquare and 8coupons partnership demonstrates that concepts considered old-fashioned can be refreshed and re-presented to captive audiences.

3. Advertise In a Whole New Space

Advertisers place their messages where they hope people will see them, with spots purchased for television, print, web, and radio. But what about buying ad space on a person for a day? Now they’re doing that too.

With more demand than ever, Jason Sadler’s IWearYourShirt initiative is flipping the advertising world upside down. In a nutshell, you pay for any day of the calendar year, send Sadler your swag, and the entrepreneur and his business partner will wear your shirt and chat up your brand via various social distribution channels like Twitter, Ustream (ustream), and YouTube (YouTube).

The best part about IWearYourShirt is that it’s the cheapest ad buy you’ll ever make, with prices starting at $2 for January 1st and going up by $2 p/day. Of course, you’ll have to act fast for the best deals because the first half of 2010 is pretty much completely sold out.

4. Be Extreme

Normally we’d never advocate sending dead grasshoppers or death notices in the mail, but two very different businesses found great success and immediate buzz by doing exactly those things.

In a rebranding effort Grasshopper, an 800 phone number provider, spent months putting together a list of the 5,000 most influential people in the US. They sent each of them a care package with real chocolate covered grasshoppers. The end result was a barrage of mainstream media coverage and social media mentions.

In a similarly bizarre ploy, the Discovery Channel freaked out influential new media types with a large package that practically appeared to be a death notice. The Frenzied Waters campaign was launched in preparation for the cable network’s highly anticipated annual Shark Week, and recipients received a jar with a note in it that read, “This jar holds a story – the story of a single tragic incident that needs to be unlocked. Dive in, investigate the evidence and discover what lies beneath the surface of frenziedwaters.com.”

Among other things, the jar also included included a large warning sign, shredded swim trunks (presumably from a deadly shark bite), and a detailed obituary dated for July 9th (a future date at the time of the campaign). Because the focus was on the Frenzied Waters website and the ominous date, recipients were initially at a loss as to what the mysterious package was all about. So, they were forced to do a little online digging before they discovered that the Discovery Channel was behind the whole thing. The Frenzied Waters campaign was a clever, if a bit creepy, way to get the right people talking and build up anticipation.

5. Embrace the Twitter Effect

Twitter can be a scary place if you’re in a business where breaking news could make or break your bottom line. Regardless of whether or not you believe that Twitter sunk Bruno, Hollywood has already accepted the reality of the “Twitter Effect.” Instead of cowering in a corner as Twitter ruins their box office, they’ve decided to give Twitter the full red carpet treatment and embrace it.

Stephen Bruno of the Weinstein Co. recently told the Baltimore Sun that, “I think Twitter can’t be stopped.” So he’s going to do something about it by taking a proactive stance. “Now you have to see it as an addition to the campaign of any movie … People want real-time news and suddenly a studio can give it to them in a first-person way.”

Eaamon Bowles, president of Magnolia Pictures, went on the record in the same piece to say that, “people will be twittering during the opening credits – and leaving when they don’t like them … the next step [for the Twitter Effect] is for studio marketing to manipulate it.”

inglouriuos basterds

As self-serving as this sounds, it’s actually quiet genius. In the case of Inglourious Basterds, which did extremely well at the box office and saw 78% of tweets being positive, the Weinstein Co. held a private screening of the movie, with tickets given away only via Twitter, during Comic Con. They also used Twittering celebrities to their advantage and held a Red Carpet Twitter meetup at the movie premiere. Clearly their proactive Twitter-specific engagement efforts are starting to pay off.

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