There are many ways to communicate your brand’s message on social channels, both keeping current customers informed and attracting the attention of potential future customers. But when you’re trying to grow awareness of your business on social networks that are crowded with brands, it’s hard to catch followers’ attention and stand out from the crowd. Certainly sending out business announcements isn’t likely to get you the kind of likes, shares, or retweets you want to grow your social presence, so what’s a brand to do?
Social audiences are often drawn by the new and the novel — things that can be difficult to manufacture on demand. That doesn’t mean you need to abandon your social strategy in favor of super sharable content that begs to go viral (though Denny’s has built a social strategy around just that) — but you should be on the lookout for unique ways to communicate your brand’s message without abandoning your corporate identity.
Today, we’re going to look at brands interacting with other brands. Though talking to other brand accounts may seem like a counter-productive way to communicate with your customers, it can result in some interesting — and sharable — interactions that can both grow brand awareness and show off your brand’s personality.
Why Interact With Other Brands?
Though it might not seem that way, there’s a lot you can gain by interacting with other brands. Done right, it’s a fun break from business as usual that your followers are likely to respond to. A social exchange between brands can get plenty of shares and even go viral — which gives both brands exposure to new audiences.
This kind of messaging is also an arena where you can really express your brand’s personality and values through what both you say and how you say it. Take a look at this recent exchange between Microsoft and Sony as an example. When both were getting ready to launch a new gaming console, Microsoft sent a congratulatory tweet to Sony. It set a different tone from Sony, who had previously posted some cheeky messaging comparing the ease of using its new PlayStation 3 to Microsoft’s Xbox One.
Though neither of these were lengthy diatribes, both of them said a lot about the brands that sent them: Microsoft was polite and showed good sportsmanship (even after taunts from Sony) and Sony took the opportunity to mock its competition (though not without reason). The tone of this messaging — Microsoft’s message was retweeted 22,000 times, Sony’s video has nearly 15 million views — speaks to the “personality” of the brands involved.
Considering your message is likely to be seen by more than just your usual customers, clearly establishing the brand identity you want is key to pulling off this sort of interaction. As a consumer, would you prefer to buy from the brand that shows good sportsmanship or the brand that taunts their competitors? Different demographic groups will respond to different styles of messaging, so be sure you’re talking in a way your audience will appreciate.
Show Another Side of Your Brand With Humor
Everyone who’s interested in your brand has probably visited your website and read through your marketing materials — and part of the advantage of this kind of brand interaction is that it lets reach the people who are less devoted to your brand and show a lighter side of your brand identity that might catch their interest. Though it’s certainly important to stick to your brand’s voice, on social you can be more casual than you might be in an official document, which gives lots of opportunities to play with format and messaging to see what resonates.
Take a look at Honda for example. Its recent Snack Attack campaign generated more than 20 million impressions through brand interaction. The premise of Snack Attack is a silly one, promoting the vacuum in the Honda Odyssey by putting food companies on notice — the HondaVAC was coming for their crumbs.
However, it worked, generating improvised back and forth discussion between Honda and 25 other brands, with responses ranging from promotion of other products with Oreo to some friendly needling with Taco Bell. Like any campaign this scale, it required quick thinking from Honda to respond to tweets quickly and keep the conversation going — both its initial messaging and many of the responses included graphics specific to the campaign and message — but you can see the effort paid off.
How Can I Start a Brand Interaction Campaign?
Though there are no hard and fast rules, there are a few things to keep in mind when you’re reaching out to other brands. The most important rule of thumb is to stick to your brand’s voice. Even if you’re being more casual than you might normally be in brand communications, you want to be sure your words are communicating exactly what you want to communicate. However, be sure to keep things upbeat and positive. Brand rivalry can be fun, but you don’t want things to devolve into (less fun) schoolyard insults. Stay upbeat and your audience will be there having fun with you.
You’ll want to be sure to make an initial plan, but don’t be afraid to divert from it if you need to. When you’re reaching out to other brands — especially if you’re reaching out to a lot of brands, like Honda did — you’ll want to have a plan of attack laid out before you start. Decide who you’ll be reaching out to, what you’ll say, and be sure to have any graphics you might need before you get started. But once you do get started, expect — and be ready for — the campaign to grow organically, and perhaps head in unexpected directions.
To best capitalize on your initial efforts, be sure your social staff is keeping a close eye on social channels for interactions and be prepared to continue the campaign with on-the-fly responses. If you’re making use of graphics or video, be sure you have staff available to make help create custom responses quickly. Not every brand will come out and play, so you’ll want to make the most of brands that do.