6 Ways Brands are Using Social Media For Real-World Action

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Daniel Stein is a digital marketing and consumer engagement expert who founded Evolution Bureau in 2000. Daniel has been behind some of the most viral campaigns in Internet history including “ElfYourself” for OfficeMax, “Ms. Dewey” for Microsoft and “Mind Freak” for A&E. Join Daniel on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.

Ever since Facebook moved beyond the college campus and Twitter joined the social media matrix, brands have been trying to figure out what to do with them.

Generally speaking, brands are using social networks in a relatively systematic way:

1) Create an account; 2) Run ads; 3) Collect fans; 4) Provide news, offers and promotions; 5) Repeat.

But the lines of the digital world and real world are blurring, and businesses should start thinking about how they can take their social media initiatives to the next level. This means looking at new ways to mobilize your social media audiences to take action in the real world. Here are six great examples of early adopter companies doing just this.

1. Twitter Scavenger Hunt Engages Fans Globally

On Easter Sunday 2010, Tony Hawk hosted his second annual Tony Hawk Treasure Hunt on Twitter, where he gave away skateboards, backpacks, guitars and other merchandise to fans. The scavenger hunt was announced on his website and Twitter feed using the hashtag #THTH. He sent items for hiding to friends in 60 cities in the U.S. and across the world and then spent hours on Twitter on Sunday revealing their locations and learning which ones were found.

Hawk was able to successfully leverage Twitter to instantaneously build his fan base, which is upwards of two million followers, and connect directly with fans in real-time.

2. Students Create Virtual Graffiti on College Campuses

The free social-networking and mapping game for smartphones, Foursquare, is making its way into the world of higher education. While universities are still figuring out how to address Facebook, Twitter and other web 2.0 platforms, students are starting to use Foursquare to label, praise, and sometimes mock college campuses.

Through Foursquare, students can add places, leave public tips, or add to existing ones while gaining “badges” for checking into places. If they frequent one location enough, they may even be awarded the coveted “mayor” badge. Harvard University has even embraced Foursquare by using it to create an official school program that helps students explore the campus.

3. Users Participate in Tour de France via Web, Twitter & SMS

Nike’s Livestrong campaign for the Tour de France is a nice example of a brand blending the digital and physical worlds and enabling its audiences to take part in a real-time event.

Nike created a robot called “Chalkbot” that could write chalk messages on road surfaces. In support of a Tour de France tradition where fans write inspirational messages on the road, Nike gave people around the world the chance to get their inspirational sayings chalked on the Tour via



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