Social Media is the New Activation

The rapid growth of Social Media and mobile use is old news by now, but recently it appears brands and sports properties are really starting to figure out how to make it work for them.  In some respect it is still exploratory in nature with a “let’s try this and see what happens” approach.  In other instances, there is serious investment taking place with Social Media as a focal point of a campaign.  Here are three recent examples of what’s happening in the marketplace.

CKE Restaurants recently launched their Happy Star Rewards app on iPhone and Android to support their QSR chain of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s.  The app combines location based tracking of customer visits, mobile rewards, a restaurant locator, a social media interface, streaming videos, menus and nutritional information.  The app can be used to cross-post users’ location check-ins on Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare.  Users are offered discounts, gift cards, a chance to win prizes and other merchandise.  CKE’s focus on creating a community via Social Media is already very strong with over 1 million fans on Facebook.  This new mobile component will help them extend this even deeper by allowing their customers constant access to their brand and incentives to visit the restaurants. (read article)

The NHL and NBC launched a campaign integrating Facebook, Twitter and the national TV broadcast of the much hyped Winter Classic game scheduled for New Years day.  The campaign consisted of  a “watch and win” contest with the goal of growing the NHL’s Facebook fan base and extending the broadcast to fans whom may not be able to watch on TV.  In addition to getting fans to tune in for the game, both the NHL and NBC were looking for engagement once the puck drops via Tweets, on-air prompts and promo spots.  Fans were asked to respond to events taking place during the game (e.g. first goal) with a chance to win prizes.  This does seem to have a lot of moving parts, but should be a great test to see how Social Media can influence television viewership and vice versa. (read article)

State Farm’s new venture into Social Media involves sponsoring an existing on-line virtual game on Facebook known as Car Town, which already has 7.2 million active users.  State Farm will be integrated in a variety of ways including branding, virtual giveaways and virtual currency.  This is a great way to connect with a younger demo and convey their marketing message tied to safe driving and multi-car discounts.  The campaign lasts for six months and will be supported with on-line media along with ties to State Farm’s other Social Media efforts. (read article)

These are just a few samples, but many more are on their way.  In some ways it feels a little bit like the wild West.  As with most things, the results will really tell the story of the impact.  However, this is a great time to be creative, progressive and expansive in your efforts.  At a minimum, you can learn more about your customers’ behavior.  Most importantly, you can create a one to one connection and hear what they are saying.  The risk should be minimal and by doing nothing you may be left behind.