Best Practices for Holiday Social Marketing
Recently, Oneupweb completed a study looking at 12 products and brands attracting noticeable online holiday buzz. We wanted to know why these brands were being talked about and how interest was being generated.
What we found were some highly innovative social media marketing strategies and tactics. From these 12 hot products and their competitors, we've established some best practices that should help any marketer generate social buzz this holiday season.
Feed the rumors
Gamers are notoriously rumor driven. Nintendo used this fact in 2006 to create interest ahead of its scheduled November launch of the Wii game console. The company established a MySpace profile for the Wii in August, three months before the product was available, and began releasing previews of games and the new gaming equipment. It also established a forum where gamers could post their responses. And in the 44 days between the U.S. launch and year-end, Nintendo sold every Wii console available at retail outlets.
In 2007, we found the Nintendo Wii generating continued pre-launch interest ahead of the release of new games and features through some of the same viral marketing outlets.
Make it an experience
Gift- and housewares marketer Ganz has given an online twist to a classic marketing idea this holiday season - selling the experience that comes with ownership. The company's Web site for its Webkinz plush pets invites children to enter their own safe social network. In the Webkinz virtual world, kids receive adoption certificates, biographies and avatars that look like their Webkinz pets. They can play games, design custom homes and interact with other Webkinz pets and pet owners.
Handbag and accessory icon Coach has created Coach Clique, a Web site where visitors are made to feel special. They get access to insider information and advice about products and fashion, Coach-branded screensavers and wallpapers, and a page matching a visitor's astrological sign to the right Coach bag. A video celebrity interview includes the celebrity's recent hit recordings and profiles of her favorite Coach products. The site has an exclusive club feel with considerable content for the search engines to index and visitors to share.
Engage and conquer
Pleo is a robotic, 6-inch-tall dinosaur. It's also a destination. Manufacturer Ugobe has created PleoWorld, a Web site dedicated to fans and future owners. The site offers a video tour of the lab where Pleo was born, and the news page includes blog posts about Pleo from bloggers all over the Internet. And there's an owners only online world as well, where Pleo owners gain access to an elite online community. Online pre-orders already have sold out, and retailers expect a brisk holiday business.
Apple's new iPod Touch was launched on Sept. 5, with typical Steve Jobs fanfare. With nearly all the features of the much-hyped iPhone, the Touch could simply have traded on that excitement. Apple chose to do more, utilizing some of the same social networking systems and hardware that the company helped to popularize. There are plenty of videos documenting the initial launch on Apple's site, as well as interactive product demonstrations and a Hot News page. This content is available on the site or as RSS feeds available for iPod and iTunes. It easily is indexed by Google and shared on social networking sites such as YouTube.
Upscale discounter Target has decided it's better to give your audience a voice than a lecture - even when that voice could be somewhat critical. Target has opened a forum for customers to place their own, relatively uncensored, reviews of its products. The reviews reside on the site directly below detailed information about the product for any potential buyer to see and comment. Although negative reviews might affect sales, Target and other successful retailers have found that this kind of consumer-generated content develops loyalty, particularly when the marketer is able to respond positively to feedback.
Make it personal
Traditionally, writers write books and their publishers promote them. Khaled Hosseini, author of bestseller A Thousand Splendid Suns, takes a more personal approach through his own Web site, Khaledhosseini.com. Here, he uses social media and personal discussions with his readers - a blog, podcasts, a guestbook for fans to leave messages, a news section and other pages where visitors can participate to help Afghanistan and other important causes. His podcasts feature the author discussing and reading his work. One blog post has more than 400 comments, and his guestbook features notations in multiple languages. The site prominently displays where and how to buy his books.
Integrate your efforts
Successful holiday marketers will market in many venues in many ways. The most effective will integrate all their initiatives, so that each activity promotes the next.
For a copy of Oneupweb's 2007 Hot Holiday Products study, visit Oneupweb at www.oneupweb.com
Lisa Wehr is CEO and founder of Oneupweb, an integrated online marketing firm. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.