October 15, 2013

Increase Customer Engagement through Viral Marketing and Social Media

To the uninitiated, social media and viral marketing may seem like fun ways to spread the word about your business; but do they lead to a measurable return on investment (ROI)? With Facebook and Twitter racking up 1.15 billion and 218 million monthly active users, respectively, it comes as no surprise that companies are leveraging these platforms to create buzz about upcoming product releases, new partnerships, and offerings.

In fact, many industries have capitalized on using the avant-garde marketing platform, including those who work behind the scenes of the silver screen.

In 2009, Paramount Pictures held advanced screenings of the horror film Paranormal Activity and encouraged viewers to tweet about the film and share their experience on social media, leading to a ‘Demand It’ campaign. For those of you who don’t know, ‘Demand It’ is largely absent from the film distribution conversation today, but just four years ago, the website was a popular grass roots-style platform for films wanting to gain mass exposure that otherwise might not get such a wide release. In Paranormal Activity’s case, one million potential moviegoers followed links from Facebook and Twitter to the ‘Demand It’ website, where they requested a screening of the film in their city or town. This campaign led to a nationwide release for the film, which went on to gross $177 million worldwide.

The success of Paranormal Activity’s ‘Demand It’ campaign is a reminder that engaging with your audience through social media, and prompting them to participate and share their feelings, is a prime way to not only create a buzz, but to also spread brand awareness.

Take the spooky thriller, Carrie, as another example. The most recent remake was gaining some bad buzz after the film was bumped from its March 2013 release date to October 18. Further eyebrows were raised after the movie did not premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, a common move for fall films of “high quality.”

However, now everyone is talking about Carrie on the studio’s terms. A new viral marketing video was released this past week, depicting a telekinetic stunt at a New York City coffee shop. The two-minute clip, which looks to have been produced fairly inexpensively, was viewed 3.7 million times in 24 hours. The genius two-minute viral video quickly turned any “bad” buzz into great marketing buzz.

Other brands and companies that have garnered success through viral marketing campaigns in just the last year, include Dollar Shave Club, Angry Birds and Google Glass, just to name a few.

Whether it’s an ‘On Demand’ promotion or a NYC hidden camera marketing stunt, it’s important for companies to think outside the box and engage with customers in a new, unique way. For example, are you coming out with a new line of products? Try launching a Twitter or Facebook campaign asking customers to come up with the new product’s name or logo. 

Which company will create the next viral campaign to set Twitter and Facebook aflame? Who knows: Maybe that company will be your own.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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