November 1, 2012
Jason Sadler, Founder of IWearYourShirt.com
Once upon a time, some guy, somewhere, had a brilliant idea to get the word out about his company. He set up a local event, passed out some fliers and people flocked to him.
Then, as is the case with marketing since the beginning of capitalism, other companies started catching on and pretty soon tents and balloons and branded events popped up. Fast forward a few years and a little thing called the internet happened – which soon gave birth to its celebrated progeny, social media.
Though tentative at first, companies began realizing how powerful it could be to connect with customers online, and it wasn’t long before the flock corralled yet again. Only this time, instead of sponsoring baseball teams and hosting sidewalk sales, they crowded into newsfeeds and clogged Facebook timelines with marketing messaging.
This tale comes as no surprise to marketers and brands. Sure, social media is crowded, but this is the pattern of every effective marketing medium. It should also come as no surprise that what’s old — that is, the balloons and the tents of yore — is making its way back into marketing fashion. But social media is hardly a lost cause.
Allow me illustrate: Our company’s bread and butter is social-media promotion, but we’ve seen an increase in interest for real-world marketing ideas or things that can be executed offline. One of our latest endeavors, a two-week, seven-city road trip sponsored by Buzztime Trivia, had us traveling up and down the East Coast in a custom wrapped SUV, stopping to play trivia against people in person versus online.
Some might choose to take this as a sign that social media is dead, or that traditional media is on the upswing. I disagree. Instead I think marketers are finally realizing that it’s not about abandoning one medium and flocking to another. It’s about realizing how to use each for its unique benefits and, when it makes sense, marrying the two.
Today’s mission should you choose to accept it is to create unique, unexpected real-life experiences and surround people with opportunities to share those experiences, as well as interact online. Use the reality for its richness and the virtual reality for its power to spread ideas quickly.
In the case of our Buzztime road trip, while the experiences were in the seven cities we visited, we filmed video content and took photos every step of the way that could be consumed and shared. We also invited our audience to play trivia along with us and compete for prizes. The content was interesting because it came from an offline experience, and then it was able to reach millions because it was shared online. It was a collaboration of both types of media.
People always want to color things in black and white. To me, it’s not about which type of media reigns supreme. It’s about how brands are using each medium to its fullest.
The core of our business of course is social media, but our clients that see the most success are those that recognize we are just one piece of the puzzle. The best marketers are those who don’t pay attention to the flock. They do what works best for them, and they make it creative and strategic.