Don’t Build Your Digital Marketing Strategy Around Hollow Numbers

Damn you, sexy hollow numbers!


“We want to get 1,000 more likes on our FB page.”

It’s always a bit of a dance explaining that while Facebook can play an important role in your overall brand strategy, generating just a bunch of “likes” doesn’t equate to much. A while ago a potential client approached Modu to help them with a digital marketing strategy for a Facebook campaign. “So what are your goals with this campaign?” says me. “We want to get 1,000 more likes on our FB page.” says them. “Oh this is going to be a nightmare” says me (to myself). Getting people to hit a “like” button isn’t a digital strategy. Neither is getting more twitter followers or trying to get that YouTube video of your corporate team-training day to “go viral”.

These hollow numbers too easily seduce people (Damn you, sexy hollow numbers!). They’re hollow because high numbers don’t always mean high sales. Collecting a lot of “likes” or followers to your company page because you’re offering free samples of something isn’t the same as attracting a lot of people who are really engaged by your branded content.

Social media channels are to be bent, pushed and pulled as creatively as possible to get your brand message out. Whether your brand message has any real value to your audience is up to you.

This is a pretty insane and exciting time to be in the branding business. I mean, not since the invention of television has there been a more creative and innovative platform than the Internet to engage with your audience. Hell, it’s better than television. Television is only a one way conversation built on the 60 year foundation of BUY NOW and GET ONE FREE! Today, we have the ability to create amazing experiences and real engagements with an audience, not just to buy what you’re brand is selling but rally behind what you’re brand is saying.

Whenever I think about recent digital marketing strategies that have really nailed it I usually look to these following three case studies. These digital campaigns are the ones that I have found to be some of the best in leveraging the digital medium for their message. They work well because these strategies are built around three key things to remember when building your own strategy, whether its digital or not: 1) knowing exactly what you message is; 2) knowing whom you are saying it too; and 3) knowing what your objective is. Learn from these great examples and then find yourself a “like” button to click.

New Zealand Transportation Agency

New Zealand Transport Agency wanted young male drivers to slow down on the road. So instead of creating an online petition to sign or a video explaining the inherent dangers of speeding, the creative team at BBDO in Wellington New Zealand decided to put their target audience behind the wheel. The digital marketing agency created an online racing game that users would sign into using their Facebook account. As the game begins and speeds increased, the player eventually crashes the vehicle. From the POV of the driver the car becomes a twisted cage of metal while their personal photos are pulled from their Facebook account, passing before them. Essentially mimicking their life flashing before their eyes.

The shock and pure surprise of the experience created a frenzy of online sharing and discussion about the games impact and message. This is a great example of knowing your target audience.

Laika Studios

I really dig this strategy because it speaks to the inner weird kid in everyone. Everyone was a weird kid growing up. I don’t care how cool you thought you were in school. You were a weirdo, which is awesome. So to promote the movie ParaNorman, the digital marketing agency Wieden / Kennedy created an online strategy around the movies theme of “You Don’t Become a Hero By Being Normal”. To help build buzz for this little stop motion film about a kid who talks to the dead, a community of artists, celebrities and other famous weirdo’s were asked to share the films message with the hashtag #WeirdWins. The message drove over 2 million visitors the ParaNorman website where users could upload their own photos proving they were weird kids. The site had amazing content and a stop motion zombie lab. A zombie lab, people!

Now there are a lot of layers in this campaign that made it a huge success, but for me the heart of it is in the message of “You Don’t Become a Hero by Being Normal”. It’s a great rallying cry to the audience and successfully binds the brand to a common truth that we’re all a little weird. This is a great example of knowing your brand message.


Snickers asked BBDO London to launch their global campaign for “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” in the UK. They harnessed the power of 5 celebrities and their twitter accounts, which of course is attached to millions of followers. Each celebrity was asked to create 5 tweets out of character. Model Katie Price tweeted about the Eurozone debt crisis while soccer player Rio Ferdinand talked about his new favourite hobby: knitting. After the 5 tweets were sent their final tweet revealed a photo of the said celebrity with product and tagline. Some people felt duped by the stunt but breakthrough ideas don’t happen by playing by the rules.

Whether you like the tactic or not it demonstrated a great use of that platform to deliver the brand message to an enormous audience and creating great engagement. This shows a great example of knowing your end objective.

So, are there any digital campaigns that you thought portrayed the brand effectively and employed a digital marketing strategy of more than just likes? Leave a comment below with your favourites, and let us know what you think!