Zumba Fitness, the international dance-fitness program catering to roughly 14 million people in more than 150 countries, was looking to shake things up for its brand. So earlier this month the company rolled out a free app, called “The Great Calorie Drive.” The PR effort, which runs through June, enables Zumba users to donate the calories they burn in a Zumba class to people struggling with hunger throughout the world; that’s an average of 750 calories per person, per class, or one meal. So far, nearly 37,000 people have signed up.
Via partnerships with Feeding America and the World Food Programme, Zumba has donated more than 29 million calories to people combating hunger.
The program is noteworthy for many reasons, but one important reason is the way in which it exemplifies how PR communicators are moving to social media as the core of their campaigns. In the case of Zumba, a video accompanying the campaign runs on greatcaloriedrive.com as well as Zumba’s YouTube channel and Facebook page. When someone checks into the program a message automatically goes to that person’s Facebook page to notify his or her fans.
“With so many people already on the social-media bandwagon it’s easy to integrate” the various social channels, says Allison Robins, PR director of Zumba Fitness. “If anything, social media is a way to seed new content to engage existing fans and reach new ones.”
PR execs increasingly are finding new ways to integrate all their social platforms and, in turn, grow audiences. These channels include Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, of course, but you can also toss apps, blogs and YouTube into the PR mix.
And while blending social media can help you spread your communications far and wide, the messages might get lost (or misunderstood) without a consistent brand message, both in the written content as well as the optics.
CONSISTENCY IS CRUCIAL
Alex Nicholson, VP of new and social media at Cone Communications, recommends three tips for PR pros who are eager to cross-pollinate their messages via myriad social channels:
1. Have a clear visual strategy: Be sure to meld visual content across your social channels. Cull imagery from a physical product and reformat that image—in the same style—on your social channels so that the visual content is consistent both online and offline.
2. Use a clear link strategy: Direct your social traffic to your website and don’t sow confusion by including other Web links or online destinations that are only marginally affiliated with your brand.
3. Maintain a consistent voice across channels: Understand the “tone” of your brand via social outlets, Nicholson says. For example, in its PR efforts on behalf of laundry detergent “Snuggle,” Cone conveys a “warm and fuzzy feeling” in all of its communications. “That means that if you’re dealing with multiple community managers you have to make sure to align the brand ethos, from a visual and verbal standpoint.”
LEAD WITH THE VISUAL
As the written word becomes subordinate to visual imagery, a growing number of brands are producing online videos that are initially posted on YouTube and then distributed throughout the social sphere.
Take Cisco Systems Inc. To help celebrate the first anniversary of its “Connected Life Exchange” blog, the company in late 2011 produced a Web documentary focusing on how telecom networks help people living in Third World countries to compete on a global scale.
The documentary, titled The Network Effect, originated on Cisco’s YouTube channel, which offered the video the best shot at being shared via social networks, including Facebook and Twitter, according to Tim Washer, senior manager of social media in the service-provider division of Cisco.
Some of Cisco’s largest customers shared the video via their social media presence, reaching a Twitter following of more than 200,000 people combined, Washer says. The video also garnered 137,000-plus views and has been screened at the highly popular SXSW conference in Austin, Texas.
“Most humans think visually, so regardless of the channel, you need to think in visual terms, whether that’s a video or a photograph,” Washer says. “I can put a video up on YouTube and then post the link on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.”
He adds: “Each specific [social channel] has its own specific culture. If you can connect with people on an emotional basis, that is what brings the channels together.” PRN
What the ‘Big 3’ Social Media Platforms Do Best
It used to be easy to say, “Facebook is for good news. Twitter is for bad.” But in today’s media environment, that’s too simplistic. Each of the main social platforms has their own use, independent of some of the other social channels.
▶ Facebook: Brands can use Facebook to dive deeper into storytelling through videos, images and infographics. There are also opportunities to drive further engagement via contests, games, sweepstakes and promotions.
▶ Pinterest: Create strong, visual brand storytelling that integrates product seamlessly into a lifestyle experience. Connect visual content back to e-commerce or additional content on brand-owned channels. Share high-value content in a visually interesting way, such as pinning infographics, maps, quotes, recipes or tips.
▶ Twitter: Companies should think of Twitter as an extension of their press page and use it to share headlines, brand updates and company news. Many brands also succeed by using Twitter as a customer- service vehicle and/or to surprise and delight consumers with content, product samples and brand experiences. Brands can also use Twitter’s search tools to identify emerging issues that are germane to their business.
Alex Nicholson is VP of new and social media at Cone
Alex Nicholson, email@example.com; Allison Robins, firstname.lastname@example.org; Tim Washer, email@example.com.