One way that brands and businesses are using bespoke social media is to drive networking through only the media that will reach their ideal customer base. So for example, Levis is using Instagram, the hip and retro photographic network, to find models for its next advertising campaign. One committed Instagram user is Jamie Oliver, and Barack Obama’s campaign team use the photo networking site too, as do Burberry, MTV and Bergdorf’s, Gucci, Billboard Magazine and Starbucks.
It’s easy to see that there’s a target market there: liberal, food conscious, keen to be on trend but not a brand slave … and that Instagram carries a message that links similar brands so that Jamie Oliver can be seen wearing Levi’s jeans, or a Bergdorf’s catwalk model spotted drinking Starbucks – the linkages create interest that drives activity.
So for Redbull, for example, find that posting pictures of casually clad people doing ‘out there’ things in daily life – skateboarding to work or dancing in an underground train – links their brand to a small but dedicated social media outlet that will drive attention to their product.
Promotional clothing has an unusual role in this kind of media, because it’s an almost wordless communication – Burberry works hard to ensure its models have a distinctly British look and boosts that by setting them against quintessential British backgrounds to give a strong, if silent, message to viewers.
Storify is being used by many big brands in a similar fashion, but to wrap social media into a brand line (eg Levi’s recent foray into the way women see themselves through their clothing choices) that gives a social media boost to a brand led statement. Tumblr is another social network that is being used to integrate promotional activity, branded clothing, consumer aspirations and peer recommendation.