The best marketers have an uncanny ability to reject conventional wisdom and still succeed. Their approach is often just crazy enough that it works, winning fans, friends and, most importantly, customers.
For brands that are new to social media, or have been hesitant to invest in it due to how crowded and competitive it has become, here are five unorthodox marketing strategies that will deliver the brand awareness and sales your business needs.
1. For organically shareworthy content, invest in SlideShare.
While everyone else is caught up on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, you can spend time in the relatively unchartered waters of SlideShare. On SlideShare, small businesses -- not just platform power users -- can receive the visibility they deserve if their presentation is featured on the website’s homepage or embedded onto other websites.
With almost no money spent on advertising and little promotional effort on our part, a number of presentations we uploaded to SlideShare went viral. Of the 10 SlideShares we published, eight received more than 10,000 views and three had more than 30,000.
Create a standalone presentation that tells a compelling story even in the absence of talking points and notes for each slide. Add it to SlideShare and watch as it racks up views, downloads and embeds.
2.No audience, no worries. Leverage others’ followings.
Most social media strategies require a heavy upfront investment in building your fanbase and followers list. Of course, when you do earn a large enough audience, you will need to spend energy and time maintaining consumer mindshare while constantly competing with other brands for customer attention. But that is a long game only few businesses can afford to play.
Take advantage of the unique audience relationships and the widespread distribution that social media influencers have. They’ve already done the heavy lifting, so why would you?
3. Circumvent Twitter’s 140-character limit.
A tweet can only fit 140-characters but a picture can literally fit 1,000 words. Take a screenshot of a quote or text you want to reference and you won't need to cut it up into multiple tweets. The image itself will be a welcome change of pace to your followers who might otherwise have overlooked the five different tweets you posted because you decided to copy-and-paste all of the sections that mattered.
Video works just as well, too. Use different types of media to get around Twitter’s 140-character limit, thus allowing you to share more in-depth messages within every tweet.
Related: 9 Advanced Twitter Tips and Tricks
4. Use an old media strategy: product placement.
One of the oldest tricks in the advertising book -- product placements -- has come to social media. Brands that have decided to tap influencers look for more than pithy endorsements. Subtle product placements end up becoming extremely successful brand integrations.
Fortunately, marketplaces such as Grapevine (for YouTube), HelloSociety (for Pinterest), Niche (for Vine), and theAmplify (for Instagram and Snapchat) make it easy to find and work with the right social media personalities to reach millennials who will rave about your products.
5. Say something quirky or outrageous.
If you have an intimate understanding of who your audience is, you are well positioned to do and say things that are a little bold without offending anyone. Avoid insulting your fans and followers, but do play to their emotions with wit.
In the past, we have seen Charmin cleverly use potty jokes to get everyone excited about toilet paper. Dollar Shave Club provided plenty of shock value with the unabashed sales pitch, “Our Blades Are F***ing Great.” EAT24, now owned by Yelp, advertised on adult sites and lived to tell the world about it. These calculated risks resulted in praise and quality customer engagement. You can play it safe on social media by being a little quirky first before doing anything outrageous. Either way, folks will love it.