Swim With The Sharks -- Or Get Out Of The Water

Ladies and gentlemen, the feeding frenzy has begun. And that can only mean one thing: It’s Shark Week. Originally launched in 1988, Shark Week is the longest-running cable television event in history. While it started as strictly a TV promotion, Shark Week has exploded into a social media phenomenon.

In the last few years, many brands have managed to join the conversation with campaigns that are both engaging and relevant. In 2013, Tide used Vine (then, a still relatively new and innovative Twitter extension), to tweet out a video with the tagline “We get blood out, too.”  Volkswagen also made a splash, using tweets and RTs to donate money for ocean preservation.

This year, Dunkin’ Donuts is working hand in hand with Discovery Channel, asking users to “Take a Bite” of their favorite breakfast item, then share the photo using the hashtag #DDSharkWeek for a chance to win recognition and a variety of prizes.



Can you compete with these marketing sharks -- or should you swim for safer shores? This is the quintessential question for social media markers. Forced messaging with little or no paid support doesn’t stand a chance in these waters. Then, we balance that with the powerful force of FOMO (fear of missing out) and we are left with quite a quandary.

For those brands daring enough to enter the fray, it will require fully integrated “war room” strategies like those we’ve seen for World Cup, Academy Awards, Super Bowl, etc. In addition to jumping on opportunistic moments, marketers can win by creating “always-on” campaigns composed of posts triggered by real-time signals like trending hashtags, engagement rates, and TV commercials.

Let’s revisit the Dunkin’ campaign. Imagine if the company accelerated spend for “Take a Bite” Promoted Tweets immediately after any of its commercials aired on the Discovery Channel. Likewise, if Volkswagen were to run a similar campaign again, it could use internal data to trigger a series of Promoted Tweets that automatically went live each time a new fundraising milestone was reached.

Not sure you have the stomach or budget for this? It’s not too late to get out of the water.

Sales executives at the big social platforms have been known to say that “every day is the Super Bowl.” This correctly implies that the audience is always there, living in their News Feed, and tuning in to conversations. As marketers, our job is to align with moments, big and small, to connect with customers and prospects.

You may never “own” the moment, but you can certainly win it before it passes to the bottom of the endless scroll.

For decisions like this, there is no definitive right or wrong answer. Just remember, there are a lot of other big fish -- and the sea is vast.

1 comment about "Swim With The Sharks -- Or Get Out Of The Water".
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  1. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, August 12, 2014 at 12:12 p.m.

    Just what we need, photos of insensitive idiots stuffing their faces. Can we possibly shoot any lower than this? The good news is, our insatiable appetites for mindless amusement and junk food notwithstanding, sharks will continue to police the oceans long after Dunkin's last customer has died of a heart attack from one-too-many feeding frenzies. We should feel a collective shame for the way the media has exploited these magnificent creatures.

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