Besides making Monday a miserable and unproductive work day, the Super Bowl is a great example of why no media buy can really ever be done in a vacuum. A few times during the big game, fans were prompted to visit MySpace.com to view and share the commercials they see during the game. The idea that is so intuitive, yet so hard to practice, is this: For today's brands to get the most out of their traditional media buys, they must have a plan to extend those campaigns into social media.
Properly leveraging social media to extend and enhance your traditional media buys does require a certain level of [warning: proper buzz word usage ahead] integrated marketing. There are a number of reasons why the need for integration between advertising efforts on television and social media is the most critical integration to achieve. First, television is a very expensive medium. See the ad spot costs for the Super Bowl. The reason why a social media extension on MySpace.com makes so much sense is that given the capital outlay on the media buy and commercial content, it would be foolish to not extend to get as much message syndication possible. Social media offers that continued syndication outlet (even if you can't force it). If you want to see more of great commercials becoming social media content, check out Firebrand.com. But it is not just big-time spending on Super Bowl commercials for which it makes sense to extend to social media.
This brings us to the next reason why every major traditional media sponsorship needs to have a social media extension. The very same quality content that is supported by advertising on television is content that people consume and share through social media. Rather than fight that trend, a social media extension strategy can allow you to embrace the wish to share the content.
Here is a very basic example: Your brand sponsors a sci-fi series on television. The people you want to reach by doing this will be the same people that would love to share that content with other people you would like to reach. These fans will find a way to share the content. However they will edit, splice and redistribute the content without your brand -- unless you make it easier to share the content you sponsored with your brand attached. THIS DOES NOT MEAN MAKING THEM COME TO YOUR PAGE TO VIEW THE CONTENT. Making the content available on MySpace is a great first step, but extending the content and experience there is even better. And let people know that your brand wants to make it possible to share the content they love with each other. Brands have always brought people great content for free and people have loved them for it; just because the medium for consumption has changed does not mean this dynamic has to shift. People are not going to pay for content, but they would rather watch professionally produced content that cost millions to make.
Finally, extending your traditional media buy into social media in an integrated manner can help provide measurement and engagement never before possible in traditional media alone. My favorite example is Pontiac's television commercials that tell you to "Google Pontiac to learn more." Social media extends engagement and effectiveness measurement for branding EXACTLY the way search can for a direct marketing message. Where search is great for informational content discovery, social media is great for entertainment content discovery.
There are some pretty amazing ways to integrate and extend your traditional media sponsorships online --and the best agencies are already making sure brands are getting the most out of the big dollars they spend on traditional media. Going forward, though, the importance of planning your social media extension will only increase. If you're not making sure people can continue to enjoy the content your brand has created (or supported the creation of) within social media, someday soon you may be throwing away half of your potential ROI.