“Imagine being rewarded for eating tiny donuts, wearing shorts, portaging a canoe, inflating a beach ball or simply doing nothing.”
So goes the press release for Molson Canadian’s Seize the Summer campaign. The Canadian beer maker has developed a mobile application that enables people to post photos and updates to Facebook of their latest summer escapades. Each post wins a virtual badge, and the object of the game is to amass as many badges as you can (just like being in the Scouts) in order to improve your chances in winning one 16 cross-country trips up for grabs.
The contest is fun, simple and perhaps more importantly for Molson, viral. The company’s Seize the Summer mobile app is among the latest examples of how businesses are latching onto social networking technologies and using them to boost business, and bolster brand awareness.
It’s no stretch to associate summer and its various fun activities with beer, but according to John Francis, brand manager for Molson Canadian, you can throw in social media into the mix as well.
A sample of one of the winning videos which features the Cavendish Beach Music Festival
To join the contest, download the Seize the Summer App here.
“We’re seeing that many of our customers tend to be those who value the outdoors and not a few of them enjoy using their mobile devices and going on various social networks,” Francis said.
“This contest is a terrific opportunity to tap into social media and engage that crowd,” he added.
Now way for one-way media
Carrying out the contest via traditional channels such as television or print media just won’t work, according to the Molson manager. “The typical ad campaign just won’t fly. Traditional media is too much of a one-way conversation.”
Social media is a godsend for budget-constrained small and medium sized businesses that are looking to boost traffic to their site or amplify the buzz around their brand, according to Kim Pittaway, a Toronto-based digital content expert.
“It’s been said so often that it has become a cliché but social media levels the playing field,” she said.
Compared to traditional marketing and advertising campaigns, social media typically has a lower up front capital cost. Many of the tools are available online are free or low cost. “The emphasis is more on a targeted campaign of relevant messages rather than a massive and paid-for media blast.”
“You have to remember that unlike old school marketing, you are not broadcasting a one-way message but rather encouraging conversation with and among the target audience,” Pittaway said.
One example of this strategy, she said is how TOMS’, a footware maker that promises to give a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair you purchase, used Facebook to reach out to customers.
Rather than simply using the Facebook wall as the site’s default page, TOMS’ Facebook page opens up with a box that comes with a “call to action”. Visitors are immediately invited to become TOMS’ fans, shop for shoes or upload photos and posts.
Leveraging mobile devices is another clever strategy, according to Deborah Hall, managing director of web2mobile , a Toronto-based firm that uses mobile applications and Web sites to connect clients to new audiences.
She said more and more Canadians are turning to their mobile handsets to access social media networks.
“More than 100 million users now access Facebook through their cell phones,” noted Hall.
Recent research also indicates that mobile social net users are “nearly twice as active” as their desktop counterparts, she added.
In the past TV and print media were crucial aspects of an agency’s value chain. Today those channels have been replaced by the Internet and its myriad still evolving social media networks, according to Tim Williams, president and founder of Ignition Consulting Group, a Salt Lake City-based marketing consultancy.
Agencies need to rethink a few outdated assumptions, Williams says. “We are still selling efficiency when what the client wants is effectiveness.”
For instance, pushing ad placements of TV and print represented the old model of broadcasting the shortest message, to the biggest audience possible, the greatest number of times. Efficiency was measured in the cost-per-thousands of viewers. Exposure was the prime objective.
Today, he said, the goal is audience engagement. The idea is to broadcast to a small targeted audience as much information on a product or service as they want, for only as long as they want it.