All Buzz, No Bite: Social Media Campaigns Need Content

As PR professionals, one of our goals when creating a campaign is to get consumers outside a business’s regular audience talking positively about the brand. One way to do that is through social media, which allows consumers to receive and pass along that information intrigue in a matter of seconds.

For the generation that has grown up with hi-speed Internet and mobile phones, social media can feel like second nature. While not all of Generation Y may be tech savvy, social natives, many 20- and 30-somethings are getting their news, information and knowledge from the Internet, myself included. I am embarrassed at how often I get my current events from Twitter or think, “Wow, this is a really Instagram-worthy moment!” As Generation Y becomes an increasingly powerful market segment, brands are motivated to reach that audience through social media.

With the hyper-connected consumer in mind, businesses often equate creating buzz around their brand and specific events through quick, newsworthy marketing pushes. Take for example the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards last month when host Jimmy Kimmel pulled a Twitter stunt by having Tracy Morgan fake passing out on the stage. Kimmel asked the audience to tweet about the stunt, encouraging people to turn on ABC and the awards show. Was it effective? The answer depends on how you evaluate social media efforts.

On the one hand, the stunt instantly generated 25,000 tweets, and the story earned coverage in media outlets such as Mashable and Ad Age.

Yet despite the media interest and trending topic (“OMG Tracy Morgan”), ratings in the 18-49 target audience were down this year.

One of my creative writing teachers in college always warned us to avoid shock worthy stories – she argued that shock value could not compensate for lack of content. Buzz without content does not lead to long-term success or interest.

On the other end of the spectrum, Adidas’ “The Return of D Rose,” hashtagged #thereturn, serves as an excellent example of a campaign currently building a foundation of strong, original content and using social media to generate sustainable buzz. For non-NBA fans, Derrick Rose is a Chicago Bulls point guard and 2011 NBA MVP who tore his ACL in the first game of the playoffs last season. In addition to TV ads and the campaign’s website, Adidas is utilizing YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to promote #thereturn of Rose while he continues his estimated eight to 12 month rehabilitation.

The campaign hinges on a series of short YouTube documentaries with titles like “Hope” and “Focus.” The mini-docs are narrated by Rose and explore his rise to fame and his efforts to come back from the injury. Adidas has already issued four episodes with two more to be released before the start of the NBA season. This well-thought-out social media campaign allows Adidas to maintain intrigue over the two-month span during which there are no basketball games and build a direct connection with its audience. In the videos’ credits, Adidas uses #thereturn tweets from fans encouraging the basketball star in his recovery. On the campaign’s website, supporters are urged to join #thereturn by tweeting or instagramming a photo about Rose with the hashtag.

With exclusive content that targets and interacts with the audience, Adidas used – and continues to use – social media to share an engaging story about a representative of the brand whose reputation and popularity coincides with the success of its products.  Despite his injury, Rose, his shoes and his clothing line are staying on the forefront of consumers’ minds. According to the website, over 7.3 million have “join[ed] #thereturn” through YouTube views and social media mentions.

Targeting the Generation Y consumer by utilizing the fast-paced social media environment is smart, but effective campaigns must balance solid content and social media. Without substance, a campaign will fall to the wayside as quickly as Twitter trending topics change.

Image Credit: petesimon on Flickr

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