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What the Boards of Canada Viral Marketing Campaign Proves About Consumer Interaction

Consumer Marketing

Social media and the internet provide businesses and brands with an exciting and constantly evolving platform to connect with their customer base. However that cacophony of voices, both individual and branded, struggle to be heard through the often muddled mass of information available.

This makes it difficult to deliver a clear message to customers through this medium. Businesses continue to seek a way to strike a note that will cut through all of the noise to reach the the customer directly.

To effectively leverage an internet and social media presence businesses must create memorable campaigns that effectively interact with audiences. Companies must work hard to create online campaigns that capture the imagination, inform, and involve users.

Ambient electronica group Boards of Canada launched one of the brightest spots of recent day interactive marketing by utilizing traditional media as well as online media to slowly tease the release of their new album.

The teaser campaign started subtly enough on a very traditional format in February of 2012. A BBC radio personality off-handedly mentioned a Boards of Canada double album would soon be released. When a fan asked the band via its Facebook page if the story was true, the band replied back with a simple and restrained, “Yes.” Which would hardly be notable except that not a word was spoken about the project for 12 months later when 12-in record showed up this spring in New York on Record Store Day marked with “Boards of Canada” a seemingly random series of dashes and slants.

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The contents of the record included a string of numbers. More Boards of Canada snippets filtered through BBC and NPR, and soon YouTube videos on the Board of Canada website all laced with numerical code. Ultimately fans cracked the code to reveal the title of the new album: Tomorrow’s Harvest.

Still ongoing the Board of Canada long-form teaser recently played new music from a billboard in Tokyo. The project serves to illustrate the power of social media to elevate a brand and engage a customer base. Boards of Canada enjoy a solid musical reputation, but their fan-base is small if fervent.

Via the inspired mystery built around the release, the Boards of Canada inspired their fans who in turn inspired rock journalists and music reporters to devote column inches to the group’s new album. Instead of just providing advance copies to the music critics with the hope that press would bolster their release, the Boards of Canada took charge of their marketing and gained focus in the press and traction in the public imagination through their website and social media and the fans who engage with it.

The Boards of Canada release represents a novel approach to online promotion. However, in smaller ways other companies also engage their customer base through their websites and social media. For instance, the deregulation of the Texas utilities market created a competitive market among energy companies allowing customers to choose their utilities. The Texas Utilities Commission fostered the mindset of a Power To Choose through its Save On Energy website by engaging and informing customers about the changes and their options.

Other companies use community managers to talk directly to customers about their experiences, share tips, and dispense promotional items. Pet food brand GranataPet earned hosted a Foursquare enabled billboard in Agenta, Germany rigged to dispense GranataPet dog food when someone checked in at on the social media site. The resulting YouTube video gained a loyal following.

Be bold in you social media choices. Aim to engage your customer base in a fashion that remains true to your brand identity. Whether that identity is mercurial musicians or trusted utility service, allow your customers to interact with you online and in the nondigital world for maximum affect.

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