Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
June 17, 2010 3:23 PM

Broadcasting Works (Even In Social Media)

It's the oldest argument in the Marketing and Advertising world: does advertising work?

The answer is, obviously, yes. If it didn't, advertising agencies would not exist and brands would be spending many countless hours trying to figure out how to get their stories, brands, products and services in front of the masses. Although I've used the example before, it's astonishing to see the millions upon millions of views that some 30-second spots get on YouTube (and we're talking long-form infomercials too).

Should brands be broadcasting messages in Twitter?

The answer is (and both Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson over at For Immediate Release will love this answer): it depends. Today, Disney and Pixar are using the Twitter advertising platform (titled Promoted tweets). Here's the rundown of how this works:

  • In the "Trending Topics" on Twitter, you will note one for "Toy Story 3". That link is bolded, highlighted in yellow and has the word "Promoted" in a yellow box right next to it.
  • When you click on that trending topic, you are directed to your own page where a specific tweet from DisneyPixar appears along with other tweets about Toy Story 3 from people on Twitter (some of those tweets have a blue box with the words "Top Tweet" next to them) - clearly, those top tweets are ones that DisneyPixar are filtering and would like to appear next to theirs.
  • If you head over to the DisneyPixar Twitter page, you'll note that they have nearly 600,000 followers (and they are following 165 people). Most/all of the tweets are self-promotional, broadcasting type of messages. In fact, the main promoted tweet is: "To infinity and beyond"! Toy Story 3 hits theaters Friday, June 18. Did you get your tickets yet? www.disneyticketstogether.com #toystory3"

This type of Marketing does work even if it runs counter to the culture of Twitter and Social Media.

Let's agree that the sheer volume of PR chatter (from this Blog post, tweets on Twitter to the major mass media news outlets) that comes with being "the first" to implement a Twitter Promoted tweet campaign (or being the first to do anything major for that matter) will pay for itself in terms of visibility. Toy Story 3 is also a playful brand, so those who are critical of brands entering Twitter with the sole purpose of promoting might show some semblance of kindness (it's hard to dump on Woody and Buzz, they are awfully cute).

The brand sees this as another mass media channel... not a conversation.

You can see this clearly. Not by the fact that they are not engaging in any @ messages from their Twitter feed, but simply because the movie is meant to attract audiences of all ages. So, they're doing what any Marketer would do: they are going to put that message in areas that have a lot of traffic and people's attention. They are going to put that message not just in one, particular, channel, but in as many channels as possible. Twitter has millions and millions of people on it. So does Facebook. My guess is that they are being just as aggressive in Facebook, but the Twitter play simply has more PR spin to it. It's not too far off to say that they are treating what they're doing on Twitter much in the same way they are treating their billboard buy in Times Square.

Does mass media advertising and broadcasting in Social Media work? I think it can. What do you think?

By Mitch Joel


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