It's time to start fueling it.
We got a unique glimpse into fueling conversation yesterday when Groupon launched its first-ever nationwide deal to the Gap and created a buying frenzy by offering a $50 gift card for $25. At the peak of the day, the site was selling 10 Groupons per second and having trouble keeping up with the traffic.
Last month, it was the Old Spice Guy. The highly interactive YouTube video campaign drew audiences in not only because the content was clever, but also because we were all in awe that it was being published in near-real time without sacrificing quality.
On the surface, these two examples look nothing alike. One was purely branding, while the other was purely promotional. Old Spice was delivered through video on YouTube. Groupon was delivered through email. But dig deeper and we see that while neither was initiated through Facebook or Twitter, these channels played a critical role in both cases.
Old Spice drove awareness through Facebook and Twitter as the Old Spice Guy responded directly to what consumers (and a few celebrities) were posting and Tweeting about him.
Groupon's emails are sent to customers based on the time zone they live in so that subscribers will get them all early in the morning, but not too early. Evidence of the social media effect on the campaign was clear when consumers on the West Coast started posting questions online asking why they hadn't received their email yet. They couldn't wait after seeing the deal being shared by people on the East Coast.
These examples show us something critical for the modern marketer: social media is about content, not platforms.
Facebook has made it easy for consumers to stop brand messages from hitting their walls by allowing users to "remove" it (BTW, I believe this is a good thing). Twitter can be chaotic and consumers may miss your "perfect tweet." Delivering content and messages to your consumers through these channels is only going to get more difficult as Gen Y ages. But great content draws consumers in. They will re-distribute, remix, and engage with it through social networks as they see fit.
Consumers drive your success in social media. Brands direct their destiny through content.
The Content Challenge
Marketing seems to go in cycles, where we bounce back and forth between which is more important. Left-brain marketing focused on analytics, segmentation, etc? Or right-brain marketing, focused on creative?
They're both needed. Creative pulls people into your message. Creative gets people talking. But the same creative doesn't appeal to everyone.
For example, we recently released the Social Profile Interactive Tool, which provides information on how consumers' personal interests and motivations drive which channels they use, what types of content they create, and which types of content they consume.
Among Gen Y consumers, we identified two groups with that use Facebook and Twitter about the same amount. "Enthusiasts" go online in search of information that supports their offline hobbies and interests such as food, sports, travel, music, etc. "Deal Seekers" go online in search of freebies, discounts, and coupons.
Each uses Facebook and Twitter about the same amount, but their social media activities beyond these networks differ. Deal Seekers are more likely to spend time in coupon forums and telling others about the great deals they have found. Enthusiasts are more likely to be reading and writing blogs or watching online video about their favorite topic. Deal Seekers drove Groupon's success, while Enthusiasts fueled the Old Spice Guy's rise to fame.
The challenge facing us hit home the other day, talking about a client struggling to generate relevant creative across its client base. They know the key criterion for segmentation, they have the tools in place to deliver creative to these segments, they just can't figure out how to get relevant content produced on a regular basis without driving production costs through the roof.
Consumers know that brands can develop interesting content suited to their personal interests if they make the investment. Gen Y consumers expect this more than others before them. Both Groupon and the Old Spice Guy serve as examples of what it takes to make relevant content creation possible.
Setting the Gap promotion aside, Groupon's daily success is based on delivering highly tailored offers to markets across the country. It has a huge editorial staff dedicated to making this happen. It also took a large team to pull off the Old Spice Guy campaign.
Regardless of what social media tools consumers are using, our real job is to give them something worth talking about, which leads me to believe we'll all have plenty of work to do for years to come.