While The Discovery Channel birthed "Shark Week" 26 years ago for the usual reason of boosting traditional TV viewership (at which it's been wildly successful), few events seem more custom-made for social media promotion.
Indeed, The Discovery Channel itself is using social to the max, with a huge campaign.
Its efforts include leveraging a #SnuffyTheSeal hashtag for engagement efforts via Vine, Facebook and Twitter (tying in with its provocative TV promo ad in which Snuffy gets snuffed), posting fans' tweets live on the air, offering second-screen apps and stickers on GetGlue, and live discussions with shark experts on Google+.
Not to mention heavy social media activity from Volkswagen of America, which, in its second year as a presenting and a social media sponsor, has upped the ante by turning last year's Beetle Shark Cage into a Beetle Convertible and giving TV and online viewers a 360-degree view of the underwater action around the cage.
But as is always true with social media, a brand needn't necessarily invest in sponsorships or TV spots to try to make hay from this pop-cultural phenomenon.
One case in point: Doritos. On Aug. 4, Shark Week's kick-off night, Relevant24, a Boston-based agency/publisher/multimedia production company that handles the brand's ongoing social content marketing, posted the image shown above on Doritos' Facebook page, Twitter feed and other social channels.
The image bears a caption: "This week, the snacker becomes the snack," along with Doritos's tagline: "For the Bold."
While at least one Doritos Facebook fan has expressed confusion ("Why is that one dude runnin towards the dorito shark though?"), the intention is, of course, to suggest that the "bold" guy has identified this as a major snacking opportunity, versus his less-bold fellow bathers, who assume it's a threat.
Thus far, comments relating to the Doritos shark image on the brand's Facebook and Twitter presences aren't showing up on those sites as hot and heavy. But Relevant24 CEO Marc Gallucci points out that, without brand media support, comments, sharing and interaction from a brand's existing social media bases is typically in low single-digit percentages.
The real game is monitoring pop-culture developments of interest to Doritos's young core audience (14 to 25) and producing branded content that intersects with those events on an ongoing basis (the agency posts once per day for the brand, on average), says Gallucci.
Meanwhile, another brand looking to surf the social media wave created by Shark Week is Tide, which has purchased Promoted Tweets to push an animated Vine with the tagline: "We get out blood stains, too," reports Adweek.