According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, context is defined as “the parts of a discourse that surround a word or passage and can throw light on its meaning.” Another definition offered is “the interrelated conditions in which something exists or occurs.”
Think about that second definition for a moment. Every one of your social media posts exists in an interrelated environment that includes everything and anything else that could be going on in the world.
With this in mind, it’s vital that you strive to stay up-to-date on the news and other trending or topical events. You don’t need to be an expert, but being familiar with the context your company and its content partakes in will help you avoid conflict and reach the right audiences at the right time.
For example, look at how LEGO's Instagram got involved in the publicity surrounding the royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in May 2018.
Not only is LEGO capitalizing on a popular and widely-publicized event, but they’re doing so in a playful and appropriate way that’s in alignment with the contextual tone of the event. As a result, their Instagram post comes across as fun and endearing and will go a long way towards delighting customers and attracting leads to the brand’s social media.
The attraction park Legoland also put together a miniature model of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Windsor castle. The model consists of almost 60,000 individual Lego pieces and is currently on permanent display at the theme park, which sits just three miles (5 km) from the real Windsor castle.
This is a great example for what a successful social media campaign looks like, as it not only publicizes the brand and its products (LEGO) but is in clear and appropriate alignment with the context that the campaign is partaking in (the royal wedding).
In most cases, it’s best for brands on social media to avoid partaking in the discourse surrounding a recent tragedy. While there are instances where it can be effective, it's far too easy for a brand to come across as attempting to benefit off of a tragedy.
One of the rare exceptions, however, comes from Apple shortly after the death of Steve Jobs. To honor and remember the original Apple genius, the tech company made a simple but powerful update to their home page.
This example is effective because it’s simple. Apple knew this wasn’t the time for publicity or marketing, and responded appropriately. The company also created an entire page on their website designed specifically for customers who wanted to mourn or share their own thoughts on Steve Jobs. This simple yet effective campaign works because it doesn’t put any emphasis on the company itself, but rather focuses on acknowledging and respecting the tragedy.
When it Works
Creating successful social media campaigns is far from simple, but there are plenty of success stories you can look to for inspiration. One of the more notable examples comes courtesy of Red Bull’s #thissummer campaign from a few years ago.
According to Digital Marketing Institute, “The goal of their Instagram campaign was based on boosting awareness and sales of their tropical flavored “Summer Edition” energy drink for the Australian market.” This is a great example for a number of reasons, so let’s break them down:
- Timely: Red Bull launched this campaign with a promotional teaser just before the summer season started in order to spread awareness.
- Branding: To focus their target audience’s attention on the new design for the Red Bull cans, the company incorporated yellow filters across a range of images and videos portraying typical summer days.
- Visibility: The energy drink brand harnessed the power of Instagram by creating the #thissummer hashtag.
What makes this campaign stand out is its lack of direct advertisement. The hashtag Red Bull used didn’t name them or their products at all but rather focused on an event or mindset they wanted to associate their product with. While this approach wouldn’t be as likely to succeed if a smaller, less established brand had done it, Red Bull knew their audience well and designed successful social media campaigns that spoke directly to the people they wanted to target.
The campaign was so successful that they even revisited it in late 2016 and early 2017 with the cleverly titled #GetMoreSummer movement, which capitalized on the winter months in Australia in a fun and self-aware way.
To further illustrate the success Red Bull found with its approach, let’s go back to Digital Marketing Institute, as they provide an outline for the benefits the energy drink brand experienced from their original summer social media campaign:
- A 10-point lift in top-of-mind awareness
- A 9-point lift in favorability
- A 7-point drop in the unconvinced market
- 1.2 million Consumers reached
Instinct vs. Impulse
Instincts are important. They help us gauge many of our human interactions and guide us towards the best decisions for ourselves and those around us. However, it’s important to know the difference between an instinct and an impulse, and how they can influence your marketing decisions and strategies.
Marketing creatives are always looking for inspiration from everything they see and consume. Sometimes when they come across a trend or a topic that seems ideal for their product they get an impulse. That impulse is the first idea that pops in their head, something like: how might our product benefit from joining in on a viral trend? It’s possible that hopping aboard this new trend could tap into a new audience and increase your brand’s visibility. However, that’s not a given, so tread carefully.
While your impulse may not be incorrect, you also need to listen to the more educated, thoughtful instinct that may be advising you to hold off on making the jump. Before you try launching a social media campaign based on a new trend or industry development, take some time to look into it, research the effect it’s had on your industry peers, and then mix that information with your educated instincts. This way, you can make sure that every campaign you launch or partake in is perfectly aligned with your brand and its beliefs.
Time Will Tell
Successful social media campaigns are led by people who are educated on the trends of the industry, well-acquainted with the priorities of their brand, and familiar with the needs and desires of their buyer personas. A social media campaign can live and die by its timeliness, so take the time you need to inform yourself on the possible positive and negative outcomes so your social posts will continue to bring you closer to the people you’re aiming for.
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