Yesterday brought an interesting revelation to your humble marketing podcast host about creating social buzz: Offering the right personality can be just as important as offering the right promotion.
Henry Hatsworth Saves The Day
My thinking here began after interacting with someone on the marketing team of Henry Hatsworth from EA. I've briefly mentioned how impressed I was with their Twitter efforts on a recent episode of The BeanCast. (I'd offer a specific link, but I can't remember what episode off hand.) Instead of doing the usual product promotion/information approach to marketing, they've instead taken the main character from the game and created a Tweeting personality.
If you follow @henryhatsworth you are treated to the English gentleman's saucy insights into how to play the game. What's more, the personality interacts with fans and is creating community. And yes, there are even give-aways, but done in a manner that is completely in keeping with the character.
Extending The Illusion For Brand Value
This approach works on so many levels! It creates loyal advocates for the brand, it inspires news sales of the product and it even provides a friendly avenue of customer service. Plus, it showcases a truth we've advocated on The BeanCast for some time: People want to interact with people. Even an obviously made up and fun person is better than a faceless corporate peon.
The genius in EA's effort is that it understands the true value of social marketing is in brand enhancement -- and for video games in particular, this is key. So much depends on the power of "franchises" in that industry and building a brand that gets people talking is essential to future growth for new IPs.
Positioned To Seize Opportunities
But my praise goes even further. I had a brief interaction with the EA person running the account yesterday and I was further impressed by his/her (I'll go with the masculine since it is "Henry") judgment calls in managing the account. During a promotion to give away the game at E3, I contacted him and told him he should give the game to me instead, because I wanted it more. It was really just a joke, but he took time to look at my follower count and gauged me to be an influencer because I was a podcast host. This resulted in a candid, out-of-character DM that said he wanted to send the game to me anyway, since a lot of people followed me. It was a chance for them to get the game in the hands of someone who might publicly talk about it.
They've basically made me, an average player, into a game reviewer -- and a reviewer who is already predisposed to them, since I've obviously already been following their Henry character. They've probably done this dozens, if not hundreds of times. And the result is this new IP is getting talked up in the game forums, Twitter and the other places where most gamers are getting their decision information these days.
Finding Your Personality
Now it's agreed that not every company has a cute little character to shuffle out. But it doesn't always take a mascot. Look around your office. Who is the person that EVERYONE loves to interact with? Well, for goodness sakes, set them up with a Twitter account! It's essentially no different than what Snapple did with "Wendy" way back in the day. Same with Reynold's Wrap's "Pat and Betty." It didn't hurt or radically change these brands or what they stood for to bring personality into play. It just made the brands richer, more personal and more approachable.
So what I'm saying is, if the CMO is not the right person to be tweeting give the job to the receptionist. Heck, let people know it's the receptionist interacting. What's the harm? These social mediums don't always need to be about inside information and top-level access. Sometimes warmth and humanity offer a much better recipe for bolstering your overall marketing success.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Social media marketing is public customer service. You don't hire telephone reps because they personify the brand. You hire the best ones because they are personable, friendly, patient and helpful. So why not put these kinds of people on public display as visible representations of the people that make your company great? It's a powerful testimonial that far too many brands are squandering.