June 12, 2012

Campaigning With Interactive Social Media Platforms

Social media allows companies to create interactive, in-the-moment and fun campaigns. Companies are engaging their audience and provoking continued dialogue, while also tying these campaigns back to their products. These companies are raising the bar for what consumers can expect from social media campaigns. Companies are utilizing user-generated interactive games, contests, and promotional events to serve consumers, as well as benefit the company. A contest is no longer just “complete a form” to enter, and even billboards are no longer just wall-based stationary advertisements. Instead, companies are spanning multi-platforms and multi-means to get their message across.

Jell-O creatively designed a campaign that connected Twitter with consumer personal sentiment and relied on a specific hashtag as a vital component to their campaign. The concept of “Pudding Face” was established with the call-to-action, “Get Your Pudding Face On.” A billboard located near Times Square, which was called the “Mood Meter” and had a man’s face with a changing smile or frown, was set up to connect to Twitter sentiments in real-time. Whenever the mood turned too sad (meaning the percentage of frown tweets were higher than smiles), Jell-O gave away free pudding coupons to tweeters using #PuddingFace. Consumers felt more connected to the Jell-O brand when Jell-O replied to sad tweeters and gave them free pudding to change their frown to a smile.


Other companies use the hashtag to promote a business campaign or idea. For example, American Express started a campaign to drive shoppers to small businesses called “Small Business Saturday.” AMEX partnered with Facebook to give the first 10,000 small businesses that registered $100 each in Facebook advertising. The campaign used #SmallBizSaturday on Twitter to remind consumers to shop at local small businesses. Google, Twitter, and FedEx are now among the big businesses that support “Small Business Saturday” and the campaign has acquired over 2.8 million Facebook “Likes” thus far.

Recently launched “Live for Now” global Pepsi campaign utilizes the hashtag, while also calls for consumer action via Twitter. Pepsi, in partnership with Viacom Media Networks, promotes the NOW factor across music and pop culture platforms. Emphasizing the present moment, consumers are encouraged to tweet images with #mtvnow, #countrynow, #playnow, #comedynow to be entered for a chance to win prizes all summer long. Selected consumer tweets are also featured across Viacom’s channels and on their websites. Twitter also will share the campaign and the NOW factor through pop-up concerts and free music downloads based on the trending artists of the week.

Other companies are using innovative strategies that include interactive gaming techniques that engage a captive audience. For example, McDonalds in Sweden used social media to create a game called “Pong” that was constructed on a large-screen billboard. Just by using a smartphone and geo-location information (no app required), one’s phone could be directly connected to the billboard game. After 30 seconds of successful playing, players win a free coupon for a McDonalds food item of choice. Consumers were then asked to redeem their prize at the nearest McDonalds location. This strategy not only marketed the company, but also brought consumers directly into the restaurant to collect a prize. A simple strategy, free food and a fun game can always be a method to bring in a crowd.

MTV has taken the concept of an interactive game even further. They have recently launched a “Teen Wolf” fan-based game/social experience called “The Hunt.” Fans of the series can log into their Facebook accounts and become a member of the show’s high school and participate in activities with characters from the show. With the line of reality and fiction blurred, this innovative social media strategy is very impressive. Like McDonalds’ “Pong” game, a follow-up strategy is implemented to encourage consumers to keep coming back for more (whether it be to redeem a prize or a personalized email reminding one to continue playing the game). “The Hunt” will be one to keep an eye on to see if other companies will mimic and if it becomes a success.

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Whether it is the use of the hashtag or interactive gaming techniques, social media campaigns are becoming more inventive than ever before. Large companies like Pepsi and American Express are catching on, but small businesses can be successful as well. Multi-platform campaigns that use widespread social media tools, such as Twitter and Facebook, can benefit both the consumer and the company: social media at its finest.

What’s your favorite interactive social media campaign? Let us know in the comments!

– Danielle Genet, @daniellegenet