While reading the recent stories about Captain Morgan's guerrilla marketing effort with the NFL, I realized that we're often tasked with similar objectives for developing social media campaigns. There are huge audiences out there actively communicating and brands want to be part of the conversation, but is inserting our message really the right approach?
A quick background for those of you who missed the news...recently, Captain Morgan created a promotion to provide donations to charity for NFL players who struck the Captain Morgan pose after completing a touchdown. Quite honestly, this was a brilliant concept, in perfect alignment with the brand, provided support to a good organization and was intended to make a significant brand impact in front of a lot of people. But the problem with this was that the NFL does not allow players to do any promoting on the field during a game.
Why is this territory protected? The NFL thrives on advertising and sponsorships; there are plenty of great places to put your messaging surrounding games--tv commercials, on the scoreboard, throughout the stadium, even flying overhead, so why not in the game? It's pretty simple. When you bring marketing campaigns onto the field, you distract from the game, weaken the experience for the participants and the audience and, in the end lose focus of the real meaning of the event itself.
When brands that want to insert themselves into the conversation apply this approach to the social media space, you can expect similar results. Social media is about conversations. As marketers, when we see audiences actively communicating and we want to be part of it, but we can't just barge in and strike a pose. So let's take a lesson from sports marketing: The key to social marketing is to look for ways to surround the conversation and get invited in…rather than just standing there with your leg in the air.