Seven Great Ways to Utilize Branded Promotional Products on Social Media

Seven Great Ways to Utilize Branded Promotional Products on Social Media

These days, businesses spend a lot of time and money on social media marketing strategies. It makes sense, because this is where the people are. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter have become all powerful; at the last count, the former had over one billion active users. This is a seventh of the entire global population. So, it certainly makes sense to think that, if you can get your online presence right, your company is a guaranteed success story.

Yet, there is more to marketing than timely tweets and trendy status updates. It is important for businesses, particularly start-ups, to make sure that popularity online translates into engagement in the real world. This can be tricky, but promotional products are an effective way to satisfy consumers and increase brand awareness. If they are relevant and practical, they will reinforce the idea that your business is just as valuable.

While branded products do offer a very different type of promotion to social media, it is a common misconception to assume that they are mutually exclusive. In this ever fluid and flexible digital world, the divisions between the two spheres are no longer solid. Social media can and does make it out onto our high streets, in the form of QR codes and scannable content, and branded products are touted by celebrity sponsors on the internet.

In fact, social media and branded products actually make great bedfellows. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can be used to increase the impact of this type of promotion and to get branded gifts, tokens, and incentives out and on to the radar of both new and prospective customers. As social media is great at reaching a lot of people, in a short space of time, there is no better way for modern businesses to say ‘Our brand is worth your time.’

This article will explore some of the most effective ways of utilizing branded promotional products on social media.

1. Offer Freebies in Return for Engagement

The truth is that it can be hard to know how to engage followers, particularly if you are still fairly new to social media. Most users automatically consider longevity to be a badge of quality, so they need clear incentives to take a chance on new brands. You can offer these incentives in the same way as you would offline; make your branded products a reward for interest, communication, and public interaction.

For example, one of the easiest ways to stir up engagement and get people talking about your brand is to promise a free gift in exchange for active participation. It could be posting a response to a picture of a new promotional item. It might simply be liking the image on Facebook. For instance, “The first 20 people to post a comment beneath this picture will get a free mug, pencil case, t-shirt, etc.” As the item that you’re giving away is branded, it increases your exposure, while also pleasing your online following.

2. Encourage Followers to Shout About Freebies

Once your branded items are in the hands of customers and followers, you can maximize their promotional impact by encouraging them to share their own content; specifically, pictures of themselves enjoying free gifts and products. This is a really clever method, because if it is handled correctly, it can create a powerful promotional loop. You give out or sell branded products and, effectively, recruit many individual marketers.

They feed your promotional efforts back to you, by showing prospective customers and followers some of the benefits of engaging with your company. If you distribute or give away items with logos or branded designs, make the prospect of shouting about it seem fun and exciting. Update followers on the results of competitions by posting pictures of the most recent winners with product in hand. This level of contribution will give your brand more authority. 

3. Give Out Rewards for Sharing Content

To come back to this concept of social media promotion as a ‘loop’ of sorts; the most effective online marketing campaigns are the ones that are self-sustaining. They give followers a reason to share and shout about the brand. Ideally, you want this reason to be because they love the company, but a little encouragement never hurts. One of the quickest and simplest methods is to offer a branded reward for the first X number of people who share, retweet, or relink.

The free gifts should be relatively small and cheap to produce. However, they should also offer users some value. For instance, a mug or a fridge magnet is a practical item, with a clear purpose. It has the potential to hang around a home for a long time, because it is useful. And, if your brand is on the front of this item, you’re giving customers a constant reminder of your company name, logo, and brand design. So, never underestimate the power of a simple retweet or share.

4. Get a Celebrity to Use Your Products

If you can convince a celebrity or high profile figure to endorse your branded product, you’ll find that followers start to take an interest very quickly. However, the first thing to remember is that this can easily become a legal minefield if you do not follow the rules. Simply put, your company is not allowed to pay celebrities for endorsements and then conceal the fact. But, just asking – as a favour or in return for an equivalent plug – is legally viable.

In this circumstance, the sponsor has made a personal (rather than a financial or business deal) to endorse your brand. So, if they post a picture of themselves using or holding promotional items, the message is that they are doing so because they like them and would recommend them to others. The trick is to be realistic; if you are a small or very new business, start out with recognizable faces from your local community -- until Rihanna decides to call.

5. Use Product Placement in Your Videos

These days, product placement techniques are not just for beer brands and Hollywood movies. They can be used to your advantage too. Businesses are encouraged to make video content a regular part of their online routine anyway, because it is the most dynamic and immersive medium. Followers are bombarded with images, from all kinds of different sources, so video content can be a refreshing and memorable shift.

You can, of course, craft video content directly around the release of a new branded product or item. However, this shouldn’t be done too often, because it can start to feel like an aggressive sales pitch. For freebies and giveaway items, this is something that should be avoided. If you are going to release a video of this kind, it should be short, to the point and with a clear message. Alternatively, you can steal a trick from Hollywood and let branded products take a background role.

6. Include Followers in the Creation Process

The exception to this rule is giving followers a chance to ride along with your ideas, so to speak. So, if you are currently sketching out designs for a branded t-shirt or mug, tweet a ‘work in progress ‘picture. Tell them how excited you are about the new idea and how soon you hope to be showing it off or giving it away to online fans. This is a good way to build up anticipation and create a story around promotional items.

You could even ask for opinions on different designs. For instance, imagine that you are in the midst of developing a branded beanie hat. It would be easy to get followers excited about by directly asking them what they want it to look like. ‘Should it be this design or this one? Leave your comment below.’ The design with the most likes or positive comments is the winner and gets turned into a cool promotional item that your followers can benefit from.

Stay Engaged and Always Communicate

You could be giving out the fanciest free gifts in the world, but it wouldn’t expand your online following if you weren’t also engaging with people. It all comes back to this circular movement of feedback and communication. If you offer your fans and customers valuable, interesting content (as well as freebies), they’ll want to talk about you. They’ll feedback and intensify the impact of your own promotional efforts, as a way to seek more content. And the loop runs on.

Ultimately, people respond to brands that are interested in them and as more than just sales figures too. They’ll be the first to tell if branded products are rushed, irrelevant or poorly thought out. Yet, you have the perfect opportunity to take a shortcut and guarantee success; you can ask your online following for their ideas, suggestions, opinions and responses.

Making Branded Products Valuable for an Online Audience

The world is moving at an increasingly rapid pace. Content is transient, attention is limited, and there are distractions everywhere you look. Yet, despite all of this, there are some great opportunities to be had for businesses that can learn how to move with this process. Ironically, flexibility and fluidity are the new way to be stable and memorable. Consumers pay attention to companies that know how to stay relevant in all kinds of social climates and situations.

While branded products, in many ways, represent an older form of promotion, like everything else, they can be updated, upgraded and used to sell your values and ideas. The key to success is contribution; you have to know when to speak and when to let your followers talk. Because when they do, they’ll talk your brand right into the hands of a much wider audience.

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