The Secret to Red Bull’s Social Media Success is There is No Secret

Red Bull StratosWhen I ask listeners of the podcast what companies they think are doing cool things in social media, brands like Red Bull, Oreo, Nike and Starbucks are most often the first ones out of their mouth.  

I’d agree with them, wouldn’t you?

Each of these brands is creating their own form of awesomeness and sharing their voice in unique ways.

I mean, two of the most talked about marketing “stunts” this year are Oreo’s “dunk in the dark” tweet during the Super Bowl, and Red Bull’s Stratos. Stratos was when the dude jumped to Earth from space. How cool was that!?

Everyone was talking about it (people still are) and the video quickly went viral as millions of people watched it.

So needless to say, with all the effective things these brands are doing, I’ve been working on getting each of them on the show for a long time now.

And today, I’m psyched to say that my persistence has started to pay off.

Red Bull’s Former Global Head of Social Media

I’m still working on Oreo, Starbucks and Nike, but I finally got to sit down with Red Bull.

Well, sort of.

Tessa Barrera is Red Bull’s former global head of social media, actually.  Former as in, when we chatted, she had left the company just days before.

Let me explain…

It turns out Red Bull has a company policy about its employees speaking publicly, which I wasn’t aware of, so when I recently reached out to her to see if she’d be on the podcast, the timing worked for her to be able to come on.

Granted we weren’t able to talk about any super secretive stuff behind Red Bull’s marketing ways, but Tessa and I did talk about their public campaigns like Stratos and “Red Bull Gives You Wings.”

And that’s really what I wanted to learn more about — what makes Red Bull so great at marketing and social media.

What goes into pulling off viral campaigns like these?  What are tricks to getting people to talk about your brand?

I had so many questions…

The Secret to Successful Social Media?

After talking with Tessa, I learned that the secret to Red Bull’s success is that, well, there really is no secret.

I know, I know, just hear me out.

Red Bull simply understands how people use social media and build strategies around that.

And they do it REALLY well.

As Tessa explained it, regardless of whether you’re one of the biggest brands in the world or a solopreneur just starting out, successfully marketing your business with social media means focusing on three key areas:

  1. Understanding how people actually use the various social channels so you can effectively use them too.
  2. Having a good social media strategy.
  3. Being authentic.

Sounds simple and straightforward, right?

Let’s have a look at each of these a bit further.

1. Understand How People Use the Social Channels

This is one of the biggest challenges I see from small businesses.  They don’t take the time to understand the ins and outs of the various social channels.

For example, Twitter is all about 140 character quick conversations.  It allows you to search for people talking about your business or relevant conversations within your niche. You can then respond to and add value where appropriate. It’s not a visual platform like Facebook or Pinterest.

Taking the time to learn this sort of thing doesn’t have to take long, I promise.

Here’s what I recommend: pick one platform, like Facebook, each week and focus only on that one platform.

Learn how people use it.  Play around in it, read a few articles on sites like Mashable so you can stay up on the latest changes, pull it up on your phone or iPad so you can see how things look in the mobile environment.

Do this for a different platform each week until you’ve hit the major ones — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Vine, Pinterest, YouTube.

It doesn’t mean you have to use all these platforms.  Quite the opposite, actually.

By understanding how each one works, you can decide which 1-3 you’ll want to spend your efforts on.

I’m telling you, so few businesses do this so if you spend just a little time doing the research, you’ll be way ahead of your competitors.

2. Have a Good Strategy

Too many businesses focus on trying to “go viral.”

Unfortunately, you can’t predict this — it just happens.  

Instead, focus on developing a good social media strategy, which means:

  • knowing your objective
  • knowing your audience
  • understanding the different social channels so you pick the ones that align with your objective and audience.
  • creating content that’s relevant to: your audience, social channel, and your objective.
  • Measuring the effectiveness of your efforts
  • Making necessary changes

In Red Bull’s Stratos campaign, they wanted to generate buzz around the brand.

Their audience is the extreme sports crowd so they knew that a dude jumping from space and free-falling to Earth would raise a few eyebrows within their target demographic.

The jump was caught on video so they used YouTube.  They used non-branded hashtags and tweets on Twitter to let people know about it, made it easy for people to share the video and used Facebook Connect to get people’s email address so they could email them about the event.

Did they know it would go viral?  No, but they had a solid strategy in place to make sure as many people knew about the event as possible.

Notice that everything they did, outside of the actual space jump itself, is something any of us can do. We all have access to YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.

3. Be Authentic

Do you hate to be sold to?  I know I do.

I’m far more likely to buy from someone who I’ve established a relationship with or one of my friends has recommended to me than a complete stranger.

That’s how social media works.

You might find this funny coming from me, but social media wasn’t made for businesses, it was made for personal connections.  So, treat it as such.  Connect with people on a personal level, not on a business level.

If you start selling people your products or services before you’ve developed a relationship with them, they’ll see right through it and move quickly past you.

Don’t be “that” guy or gal.  Rather, put yourself in the shoes of your customers and stay authentic to what you want your brand to be for them.

You Don’t Have to Send People to Space

Social media success is much more than creating over-the-top stunts for your business and then promoting it.

Remember the 3 strategies above because they play a massive role in successfully marketing your business online.

As Tessa said at the end of our chat, “Read, play, and don’t over complicate things.  Your customers will thank you for it.” Tweet This

Sounds good to me.

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