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Cultural Commentary Creates Winning Twitter Campaigns

  |  January 30, 2014   |  Comments

Building Twitter campaigns based on timely and relevant topics, cultural cues, and traditional events can mean the difference between adding value to the conversation and getting in the way.

Last weekend, TV viewers gathered to watch the Grammy Awards. As is increasingly the case with major pop culture events, they were also following it on Twitter. According to Twitter, viewers generated more than 15 million Grammy-related tweets.

Some of those, as you might expect, came from brands. Gain, Hyundai, and Secret Deodorant were among those companies that tweeted in real-time, but Arby's stole the show with a tweet about Pharrell Williams' hat that garnered more than 80,000 retweets, 45,000 favorites, and a reply from the musician himself.

With the Super Bowl coming down the pike, we can expect to see a lot more brand activity on Twitter in the weeks to come. This isn't, however, a novelty. Over the past year we've seen more brand engagement on Twitter than ever before as marketers embrace the social site as a vital part of their campaigns. We've seen Twitter undergo some changes: earlier this month it redesigned its Web interface to more closely mirror the clean look of its mobile apps, and recently it upped the visibility of photo and video tweets. These modifications are great, but the thread that ties together so many brand campaigns -- including those allied to the Grammys -- is timeliness and relevance to what's happening in the world beyond the screen. It's these traits that marketers aim to emphasize as they look to gain the attention of followers and would-be fans. Here's how they're doing it, and why it works.

Campaigns to Make Cultural Connections

Suited as it is for facilitating communication, Twitter has assumed the role of messenger in many a brand campaign. A new Olympic Games-themed campaign from McDonald's, launched last week, employs the site to speed words of encouragement to Winter Games athletes and teams.

Consumers can select their Olympian of choice at McDonald's microsite and either send a message facilitated by the brand or connect with an athlete through Twitter. The effort makes good use of Twitter's ability to break down barriers between regular users and their high-profile counterparts, and plays up the befitting concept of direct communication. Because it does it all in the context of the Olympic Games, it's interesting and useful to consumers. The games are a subject that captivates users, while the campaign gives them an opportunity to feel that they're part of the action.

Commiserating Over National Events

When a collective experience is top of mind for consumers, brands look for ways to contribute to the dialogue. Twitter -- and in particular, Vine -- can be a useful conduit. Earlier this month, Samsung launched a video that called attention to the Polar Vortex while showcasing its Galaxy Life device. And fashion and style feed @WhoWhatWear has tweeted more than a half-dozen photos this month based on the Polar Vortex theme. Ranging from shots of celebrities dressed for the cold to its featured products of the day, the tweets are timely and relevant while serving to drive traffic to the Who What Wear site.

Echoing Folklore and Tradition

Last October, Luvs Diapers launched a unique campaign to promote Luvs with NightLock based on the old adage that driving a crying baby around lulls them to sleep -- folklore our society knows well. The brand launched a campaign in which crying babies and their parents could be chauffeured around until the children settled down. Parents (the campaign was geo-targeted to Brooklyn, New York, where most families don't own a car) only needed to tweet using the hashtag #LullabyLift. The effort reportedly generated a more than 240 percent increase in average monthly fan growth, and a 162 percent increase in monthly Luvs mentions on Twitter.

In keeping with the Christmas tradition, last month Virgin Atlantic created an online holiday event based on the concept of giving. For a week in December the brand invited those who followed @Virgin_Atlantic to participate in a hodgepodge of Christmas-themed contests using the hashtag #wishweek. Prizes ranged from gift boxes of British goodies to free flights and Gold Card memberships. Virgin asked users to reply to questions through Twitter -- for example, why they wished they had a @NokiaUS Lumia 2520 "filled with VAA In-Flight Entertainment" -- and selected a daily winner. ‬

Twitter has established itself as an online meeting place, where our society can connect and converse in real time. Building campaigns based on timely and relevant topics, cultural cues, and traditional events can mean the difference between adding value to the conversation and getting in the way.

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Tessa Wegert

Tessa Wegert is a business reporter and former media strategist specializing in digital. In addition to writing for ClickZ since 2002, she has contributed to such publications as USA Today, Marketing Magazine, Mashable, and The Globe and Mail. Tessa manages marketing and communications for Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy agencies servicing such brands as Bioré, Food Network, illy, and Hunter Douglas. She has been working in online media since 1999.

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