Here’s a thing that I’ve never understood about advertising, or the marketplace in general — why don’t brands ever acknowledge each other’s existence? Outside of vague references to “the Other Guys,” most companies want us to believe they exist in a vacuum.
Except for cell phone companies. They call each other out, by name, in almost every commercial. Savages.
But every other company expects us to forget that the marketplace is flooded with competition as long as they have our attention. And, yes, I understand that it doesn’t make sense to produce a commercial in which you mention your competitors. I’m not suggesting that you waste your money or pitch that idea to your CMO. But, why aren’t brands more collaborative online where it’s all (basically) free?
Small businesses have historically seen the value in collaboration over silos — and have taken advantage of it online. On Instagram, for example, Loop Giveaways were popular for a time. The basic principle being if you partnered with brands who share a similar audience to yours and gave away an ultimate prize package with gifts from every brand, everyone would benefit.
It usually lead to an increase in followers, engagement and impressions. More recently, these types of collaborations haven’t been as popular. Because users are more protective of their feeds, asking your audience to follow someone else they aren’t familiar with or trust can have a negative effect for you. But brands still tag each other in photos and in the comments to make sure that they are exposing their audiences to new things they might enjoy in a less obvious way.
Way back in the day, individuals on Twitter had a popular #FollowFriday trend where they would shout out other people who they thought their followers would find value in discovering. Now, people largely get the same effect by sharing or retweeting, but the same sense of collaboration exists.
But it seems like once a brand gets over a certain number of followers, businesses abandon the spirit of the Internet, to be collaborative and connected, and ignore their competitors as well as other brands that may pair well with their service or product. Despite being online in nearly every social platform, they refuse to be social with each other.
Remember last year when Burger King asked McDonald’s to work together to create the ultimate hamburger? It made national news, and not just because we hadn’t slipped into the hell that is having a toddler as our President-Elect. It was because it was one of the very rare times that two gigantic brands acknowledged that the other existed — they actually called each other out by name.
The few times that brands have gone back and forth with each other online, consumers have gone crazy. They screenshot the entire exchange and eventually turn it into a meme or a popular Tumblr post. It’s the easiest, most entertaining strategy that no one is using.
And, again, I’m not saying that everyone should be getting along online and Denny’s and Ihop should form a super-diner. Although, I don’t want to go so far as to say say I’m not not saying that either.
But I am saying you could be collaborating with other brands who aren’t your specific competition to have highly visible, entertaining and engaging conversations that would increase your net sentiment online and off.
Let’s say you’re the social media strategist for Stance Socks. Do you know what people think about when they put on socks? Putting on shoes.
You know what would be a completely logical conversation to start? How Stance and Vans go together like peanut butter and jelly.
You know who has never acknowledged each other online? You get it.
There are plenty of other examples you can think of for yourself that follow this same logic, so I won’t bore you with more. But I will ask that if you’re part of the digital advertising team for any big brand, start an initiative to be more social with other big brands.
For the sake of our entertainment and the spirit of the Internet, we need you to start talking to each other.