Social media marketing has earned its place as one of the fastest-growing, most competitive marketing fields in the history of advertising. People are gathering online in record numbers, finding and socializing in groups that cater to their interests; often, these interests neatly intersect with marketing and branding opportunities. The best social media tools combine simplicity with an extensive reach, allowing messages to target thousands of people in seconds, thus serving as an outstanding tool of brand promotion.
Briefly, here are a few of the more interesting and simple ways you can use social media to arrange a short-term promotion for your brand.
#1 – Flash Mob
A flash mob is an impromptu gathering of people arranged by SMS. Originally popular on message boards, the advent of texting and SMS powerhouses like Twitter has made flash mobs even easier to arrange. In the simplest terms, the originator of the mob sends a message to his audience, arranging a time, place and theme for a quick meeting and/or performance. Famous mobs have included zombie walks, unannounced pillow fights at major business centers and other assorted fun events.
As an example of using a flash mob for a brand, consider the following scenario: You own a cafe with a respectable Twitter following. You tweet out a time and place – say 2 p.m. in the park – and a short promotion code like ParkFrap. When everyone arrives, you’re waiting with a selection of your newest frappe drinks, and everyone who can give you a copy of the code gets a drink and a coupon for the next time they drop by the cafe.
This kind of arrangement takes a bit of preparation, of course, but the idea creates instant buzz, sticks out in people’s minds and can be an enjoyable time for everyone.
#2 – Couponing
People like to save money, and businesses like to make it. If your brand is tied into a business that offers product, you’ve probably already considered how to go about offering coupons to people. Social media offer many avenues to getting coupons out to people. Again, Twitter is an excellent tool here; in fact, there are several sites out there that are tailored to helping use Twitter for couponing. For example, http://twtqpon.com allows you to combine a short tweet and an image into a coupon for your customers.
However, Facebook is also a good tool for distributing coupons. If your brand has a Facebook group associated with it – and if it doesn’t, why not? – you can leverage the service as both a coupon and a promotional tool. For example, post a message with a new coupon that’s only valid if a follower brings a friend along. In this one step, you get two people into the store, sell some product and have a chance to sign up a new follower on Facebook.
#3 – Cross Promote
Sometimes you don’t necessarily have a large following of your own. This is obviously the case in brands that are just developing their online identity. They’ve signed up for the various social media services, but haven’t really gotten a big splash together.
This is where research and legwork come in. Let’s continue with the coffee shop analogy, since cafes seem to be a defining feature of the modern set. You could look up a group that tends to associate with cafes, such as writers. If you find a local writing group on Facebook for your area, consider posting a friendly message on their board, inviting them to come in for a weekly “writer’s day” in which members of your newly-formed writing club get a discount.
Remember, of course, the key rules of social media: be polite and respectful. These are people you’re talking to, people with their own agendas and desires, and they can sense insincerity like a shark smells blood in the water. Your offers must be interesting and credible.
#4 – Picture Perfect
Images are powerful things. A well-done image can excite the imagination and catch peoples’ attention in a way that text sometimes fails to grasp. Consider sending images designed to give people an association with your brand.
Returning a final time to our cafe example, consider taking a picture of some fresh cinnamon rolls that just came out of the oven and quickly uploading them to your preferred social media service. This requires a bit of work to make sure the picture looks appetizing and appealing, but isn’t too difficult. Post that picture up along with a message about how they come with a free cup of coffee between 10 a.m. and noon, and you just might have a rush on your hands.
Even if you don’t have mouth-wateringly delicious pastries to offer, any brand benefits from visual associations. When you go to make a post in your blog or SMS, include a link to a relevant picture as often as you can. This will help people associate your brand with colorful thinking, with interesting things to look at, and the like. Text can appear awfully drab, so do what you can to brighten it up a bit.