Guerrilla Marketing: You’re Doing it Right

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have seen one of the many hilarious GIFs floating around the internet.  Like this one of Jennifer Lawrence at the Met Gala a few weeks ago.

JenniferLawrence
Seriously, can we be best friends??

GIF stands for “Graphics Interchange Format” and it’s what makes animated images.  Invented in 1987 by Steve Wilhite, both the GIF and its inventor were honored this week at the Webby Awards.  Wilhite’s 5-word acceptance speech (delivered as a GIF) sparked a debate all over the internet.

“It’s pronounced ‘Jif’. NOT ‘GIF’.” -Steve Wilhite

Cue: OUTRAGE!!  “But we’ve been pronouncing it ‘gif’ this whole time!”  “Bah, you fools, everyone knows it’s pronounced ‘jif’!”

This is where the guerrilla marketing comes in.  Like Oreos did so brilliantly at the Superbowl, the folks over at Jif peanut butter had a marketing creative on hand who was struck with a genius idea.

And, of course, that link takes you to this:

 

It's Pronounced Jif

 

Don’t stare too long, you might have a seizure.

GENIUS!!  Timely, apt, clever and très à propos!

This tweet got nearly 2,000 retweets and garnered new followers for Jif on Twitter.  They still don’t have an enormous following, but if they continue to engage in awesome guerrilla marketing tactics like this, it won’t take long for their fan base to grow.

This and the Oreo ad from the Superbowl show the value of having a connected and empowered social media team.  When brands invest in social media monitoring and allow their social media managers to take action (within guidelines, of course), they open the door to these moments of creativity that give their brand visibility and popularity.

Build social media strategies, give employees free reign to come up with engaging content, and your brand will come out a winner.

Well done, Jif.  Next time I’m in the market for some peanut butter, you will certainly get my dollar!

The Lady Does Love a Pun

I really do love a silly pun.  George Takei has got to be my favorite purveyor of puns in social media.  This weekend, Mr Takei was honored with a Shorty Award, an awards show which honors the best in social media. Here he is, delivering his acceptance speech:

Mr Takei joined Facebook in March 2011, and went from being that guy who played Mr Sulu on Star Trek to an internet superstar with 3,886,703 fans on Facebook, 616,661 followers on Twitter, and countless other fans in platforms like Pinterest and Tumblr.

On average, George Takei’s Facebook posts get up to 50,000 likes and roughly 30,000 shares, not to mention tens of thousands of comments (numbers from Mashable, and are probably outdated).  No one else comes close to getting that kind of engagement.

Why is he so popular?  As the Mashable article I linked to explains, it’s his humor.  George Takei posts visual and verbal puns (usually terrible) and regularly sets people giggling.  In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek in February 2012, Mr Takei said his philosophy for sharing is to use crowd sourcing and humor.  He likes to “share laughter as a community” on his pages, and does so to great effect.

It’s not just that Mr Takei posts humorous content, but it’s also the kind of humor he shares.  He’s all about nerdy humor that frequently references Star Trek, Star Wars and other supposedly “nerdy” franchises.  For some reason, this kind of humor has struck a chord with the internet population, and the result is that George Takei has a seriously dedicated fan base.  Like me, many of these fans aren’t even Star Trek fans (I’ve never seen an episode.  Yes, you can wipe that shocked look off your face now), but that doesn’t seem to matter for Mr Takei’s internet popularity.

George Takei Cologne
See? Terrible (yet hilarious) puns.

Occasionally, George Takei will post something about a project he’s working on, or share his activism for LGBT rights.  His response to the so-called “Don’t say gay” act sparked the now popular phrase: “It’s okay to be Takei!”  He will also often post about his quest to prevent the American public from forgetting the episode of interment of ethnic Japanese in camps during the Second World War.

As a professional who works in social media, I can tell you that for brands, frequently sharing things other than content that invites followers to comment can often lead to loss of fans.

Mr Takei hardly needs to worry about that.  He has established a healthy trend for maintaining fans: He overwhelmingly posts humorous plays on words and intersperses his funny posts with other content only occasionally.  The result is his impressive following.

As I said, I love silly puns.  I also completely agree with Mr Takei’s philosophy of creating community through humor.  I think that the causes he actively supports are important ones.  For these reasons, George Takei is my all-time favorite internet celebrity.

I look forward every day to his amusing posts, which hardly ever fail to make me smile.  It’s such a pleasant, simple way to brighten up your day.  So do yourself a favor and follow George Takei on your social media platform of choice.  You’ll be glad you did!

Twitter #Hashtag of the Week: #PopeFrancis

As I’m sure pretty much the entire world knows, habemus papam!  We have a pope!  Or, well, as a non-Catholic I suppose I should say, “Habent papam.”  They have a pope.  This was hands-down the most tweeted papal conclave ever, so this week’s #Hashtag of the week is #PopeFrancis!

Pope Francis I
Photo credit: VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images

If the news reports from yesterday and today are anything to go by, this pope has already become something of a media darling.  Though he didn’t out-tweet Barack Obama upon the occasion of his re-election, the pope did get 132,000 tweets per minute at the height of the frenzy, according to Mashable.com.

Francis I won hearts from the very moment he chose his papal name.  A Jesuit, he took the name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of Italy.  St. Francis is also known for his life of poverty, a lifestyle the new pope emulates.

As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Bergoglio reportedly refused to live in the bishop’s residence.  He took public transportation to work, cooked his own meals and maintained a simple lifestyle.  Apparently there’s no need to put these facts in the past tense, because according to the New York Times, he seems to have no intention of changing those habits as pope.

So why does all this matter?  Why was #PopeFrancis a trending topic on Twitter?  And why should anyone care?

Well, frankly, because 1.2 billion people in the world are Catholics, and because this man is now their religious and spiritual leader.

Another reason people should care is because the Catholic Church, whether we like it or not, is a powerful institution.  Its doctrines and teachings guide the beliefs and practices of many of those 1.2 billion.

Is #PopeFrancis, therefore, likely to be a great reformer?  No, probably not.  As everyone now knows, he opposed the legalization of gay marriage in Argentina in 2010.  He seems to take a traditional stance on women’s roles in the church and the celibacy of priests.

But maybe, just maybe, this man’s humility, honesty and down-to-earth mentality will help move the church a step forward.  One hopes he will address issues of corruption in the Vatican and the sexual abuse scandals.

One also hopes that his new perspective on these issues will add a little oil to the rusty old machinery of the Church and help crank it slowly into the 21st century.  Preferably before the 21st century is over.