The social media playground: we’re the kids, brands are the adults

Let’s imagine all social media platforms are a massive playground and all the millions of users are running around inside of it, climbing on things, playing games and exchanging conversation. Now imagine there’s an adult watching over the kids, keeping an eye over their every move, making notes of their behavior — what games they are playing, what they are talking about and with whom.

The “adult” represents big companies and brands and “kids” the general public and users of social media platforms.

One increasingly hears of and sees a new Facebook game or competition that a brand has implemented on its Facebook page to gain more “likes” or mentions from potential new fans.

Of course these brands and companies mean business, but things seem to have become less serious. Brands spending big bucks to enter the big social media playground are hiring innovative minds to conjure up imaginative ideas to connect with their audience.

It seems to have all become a fun game with millions of participants. Probably the biggest the world has ever seen.

One of the most successful ways to get people talking about your brand is to give stuff away. Competitions hosted on Facebook have become very popular and is probably going to become more prevalent and more creative.

From voting to sharing and mentioning a brand fans get rewarded for participating. It’s like rewarding the kids in the playground with sweets as a big thank you for participating.

With global Facebook ad spending predicted to reach $9.8 billion in 2016 from $3.8 billion in 2011, and with brands such as Ford paying up to $5 million for groundbreaking campaigns such as its “Fiesta Movement” three years ago, the playground is becoming very profitable.

Fiesta didn’t use traditional advertising like a TV commercial, ads in major magazines or massive billboards. Instead it started a massive social media conversation by recruiting 100 influential bloggers, giving them each a Fiesta to drive for a while and then talking about it on social media platforms.

But brands don’t have to take out a big chunk out of their overall marketing strategy for their social media campaigns. Unlike television ads, social media is still more affordable than most traditional advertising channels. And some brands are becoming masters of this playground.

Success on social media happens when brands don’t take themselves too seriously. Social media is about socializing, creating topics to talk about and a chance for brands to tell their own story. If you play the game right, you will receive your return on investment, whether it is in the form of more fans or more money.

After all the most popular kids on the school playground are those who are social, approachable and outgoing.

Take for example Grey Stockholm and Ogilvy Stockholm who wanted to get their Facebook fans involved when the two companies merged in 2011.

By asking fans to participate by signing into Facebook, every time someone new signed onto their site their profile picture got added to the company logo. The more pictures were added, the bigger the logo became. This strategy was simple and effective. By creating buzz around the new merge, the company also succeeded in connecting with their followers and telling a story together.

With each new innovative campaign gaining popularity and brands gaining new followers and fans, the more brands want to climb onto the metaphorical merry-go-round, which sits right in the middle of the global social media playground.



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