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Social media is not the place for direct selling — people scroll down their Facebook and Instagram pages to see exciting new content, whether it’s for entertainment, educational or social purposes. Social media users want to see something they can talk about with their friends, and the basic purse that you’re looking to buy from Amazon isn’t exactly the most interesting news to share.
Despite that, social media can be of great help when marketing your company, whether somewhat directly when a company’s products are subtly embedded into how-to videos, or indirectly, when a company is simply seeking to build a certain image which would appeal to their target audience.
As we’ll see from the following examples, collaboration between companies and high-profile people on social media can happen in various forms, and successful social media campaigns work for very different reasons (and, in turn, achieve different results). Let’s take a look at a few successful cases.
1. Travel Ticker
A fairly new hotel booking service, Travel Ticker, has kicked off with a slightly controversial video, in which famous rooftoppers (@beerkus, @semenov_id, and @d4daev on Instagram ) climb the Eiffel Tower at night.
But they’re not taking the stairs — in the video, as soon as the climbers get the chance, they get off the tourist route and start making their way up through structural elements of the Tower. Combined with dramatic music, drone/first-person POV and excellent editing, this piece of content gives chills even for the viewers with strong nerves.
Why is it a good idea for Travel Ticker to sponsor a video like this? Isn’t it a bit out of touch for a company that wants to be taken seriously to position itself as supporting dangerous, extreme and (a little) immature actions?
One possibility could be that Travel Ticker never wanted to be taken seriously. The main mission of a hotel booking search engine is to offer the best hotel deals, which are on high demand among young people looking to travel on a tight budget. And while young travelers might not really care about how eco-friendly your company is or how much your company donated to a local charity, an exciting POV parkour video might just be the thing to catch their attention. And it was — 400,000 views on their debut Youtube video in less than a week, all on Travel Ticker’s Youtube channel.
By the way, the climbers in the video were wearing Travel Ticker t-shirts, too.
Ever since their launch, GoPro have been an undisputed leader in the first-person POV camera market. They’re everywhere: amateur Youtube videos containing everything from sunny summer experiences to extreme biking films are countless.
What do GoPro do to keep this wave of user-generated content flowing? They sponsor famous representatives of the extreme sports (skiing, mountain biking, rally, etc.) to produce incredibly exciting, well-edited first-person POV videos. The message behind these videos is along the lines of: “Here’s what’s possible with our cameras. Now go ahead and show us what you can do.”
To create more buzz around their videos and (naturally) produce the best content possible, they collaborate with big names in the industry, like famous mountain bikers Kelly McGarry and Claudio Caluori, or even the legendary rally driver, Ken Block, who has a huge following on social media.
As a response, many high-profile content creators use GoPros to film their extreme sports videos, including the climbers in the Travel Ticker’s video. And although many of GoPro’s videos (even the user-generated ones) feature the company’s logo somewhere in the video, the first-person POV has become so recognizable that whenever you see a first-person video, you think of GoPro.
3. Kardashian Beauty
So far we’ve taken a look at companies that use big names on social media to attract more attention and create a certain image among their target markets. In the case of the notorious Kim Kardashian West, she is the face of her business.
While Kim is extremely big on social media (29M likes on her official Facebook page), she’s also frequently featured in pop and fashion news. Let’s explore how Kim turns all of that media buzz into sales.
The image that Kim Kardashian is creating through social media is that of a diva: a strong, successful, independent and beautiful woman. All of the content on her Facebook, Instagram and YouTube accounts is centered around her persona, as if to emphasize one of the previously mentioned qualities: a sexy picture on Instagram showcasing her hourglass figure emphasizes beauty, while a shared article about all the hard times in Kim’s career creates an image of a strong, successful woman.
Needless to say, such content connects extremely well with aspiring young females, who constitute the majority of Kim’s following. Millions of young girls and women consider Kim Kardashian West as an ideal and an authority, and wish they could be more like her.
This makes it extremely easy for Kim to quietly market cosmetics and beauty products to young ladies looking up to her. For example, the primary goal of the “THE LOOK” videos on Kim’s YouTube channel is to share practical advice on how to achieve a certain look.
But beyond the tutorial, the cosmetics used offer great product advertising, and some of the products used are from Kardashian’s own line — Kardashian Beauty. These videos are scoring well over a million views, too.
Wrapping It Up
All of these social media marketing campaigns are essentially different. While Travel Ticker seeks to create awareness among young, free-spirited travelers, GoPro use social media figures like Ken Block to spark extreme amounts of user-generated content. In her own right, Kim Kardashian West uses herself to create the image of an idol and authority to be able to easily recommend cosmetics and beauty products, some of which are of her own business.
One of the main reasons why all three campaigns are so successful is that there is great synergy between the companies’ products, their target market’s interests and the type of content the social media influencers these companies choose to promote through are producing.
There are, however, a few crucial similarities between these examples. Firstly, they all revolve around exciting, trending and, sometimes, controversial topics. Climbing the Eiffel Tower in such an unconventional manner is extremely appealing to the younger generation, as are the high-quality first-person GoPro videos showing what it feels like to be an athlete of extreme sports or a race driver. At the same time, Kim is juggling her public strong woman image in a time when sexism and feminism are huge topics. To get your customers’ attention, you first need to be where their attention is.
Secondly, none of these campaigns are focused on the products of the companies’ they market. The only thing that ties Travel Ticker videos to their hotel booking website is the channel’s name and the Travel Ticker shirts that the video’s heroes wear. Even though the viewer is aware at all times that it’s a GoPro camera that the video was filmed with, the videos themselves are all about the actual content. Kim uses 95% of her media presence to market herself, not the products.
We can conclude that our initial hypothesis holds: on social media, you shouldn’t look to increase sales directly. Instead, you should be building an image, creating an audience and building trust, all of which can eventually convert into lots of sales.