Social media plays a part in advertising

By Greg Richards

Viral marketing is taking over the advertising world as companies like Game Plan invade the social networking scenes through online and offline affairs.

Tim Hayden, CEO of Game Plan marketing agency and Texas State alumnus, spoke today about how sites such as Twitter and Facebook are being used in joint with live events to advertise products.

“[Consumer] behavior is changing,” Hayden said in the filled classroom lined with rows of desks. “Audiences are no longer listening, they are talking.”

The advent of online networking and mobile devices was a turning point for consumerism in the U.S., according to Hayden.

New technology enabled people to focus on what they want when they wanted to, and this has become a hurdle for some companies, said Hayden. Putting forth effort into bridging the gap between live events and online social media has helped Game Plan jump ahead.

One campaign described by Hayden involved Justin Timberlake’s 2007 FutureSex/LoveShow world tour. Game Plan worked with Dell in creating the “Dell Lounge” which surrounded the stage. There, audience members would order drinks in cups marked with the Dell logo.

Text message campaigns were sent out to concert goers with the enticing prize of a new notebook computer. At the same time, booths were set up in the entry ways with computers and TVs allowing anyone passing by to play video games, all sponsored by Dell.

The effects of all these were enhanced further by the fact that people were snapping photos with their camera phones inadvertently capturing the Dell logos and posting them online on their Facebook and Myspace pages.

At a South by South West after party, Game Plan employed the Dell lounge again, but with help from famed blogger Perez Hilton.

The party was styled along the walls with updates from Twitter that included anything about the events at the party. When artist Kanye West showed up tweets from the audience shot through the roof effectively bringing Dell more attention.

Hayden added that the mobile markets are the new frontier, and that these new technologies are offering “tighter, warmer relationships.” By using devices in such a manner, people “are being themselves through any of the tools.”

At the end of the presentation, Hayden made the point that word of mouth is more powerful than any advertisement.

Photo by Greg Richards

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