If you think that Red Bull is a company that just makes energy drinks, you’re mistaken. Red Bull has expanded to sponsoring and hosting a variety of events and spectacles that are designed to draw attention on the web and in real life. Examples include their Air Race series, the Flugtag air competition, and this past weekend’s record-braking Space Jump.
If you haven’t heard, the Space Jump, organized by Red Bull Stratos, was a world record attempt by daredevil Felix Baumgartner at breaking 4 world records including highest free fall, fastest free fall, longest free fall, and highest manned balloon flight. In the end, he successfully jumped from a capsule carried to the edge of space by a balloon, roughly 128,000 feet (39km) above the earth. When in free fall, he broke the speed of sound travelling at a maximum velocity of 1,136km/hour.
The event also managed to set a new record for the “live stream with the most concurrent views ever on YouTube.” At peak, there were more than 8 million concurrent live streams, YouTube said in a Sunday blog post. The jump was broadcast on Red Bull’s YouTube channel, as well as cable television.
In the months leading up to the event, Red Bull managed a complete social media and digital marketing campaign that is still going strong. It’s worth a closer look to see how Red Bull used content marketing to promote the event and brand.
1 – Building Buzz
The Strategy: Red Bull produced a series of videos documenting the history of the records that Felix was attempting to break, documentation of Felix’s preparation, a website providing information on the technology being used to break these records, and on.
Key Takeaway: Utilize the power of video! Red Bull took advantage of historical footage and information to build buzz about their event, and with enough research and creative input, you can do the same. Invest in promotional media such as video, and monitor how the audience interacts with it. You can incorporate public domain information and video clips from sites like Archive.org or Wikipedia, and outsource production on sites like Elance.com for a professional quality final product.
2 – Branded Content
The Strategy: In addition to the pre-promotion and preparation videos, Red Bull used their main blog and social profiles to share captivating messages, photos, and updates. The Stratos Twitter profile has been pumping out compelling updates including Instagram shots from test flights, various preparations, briefings, and the actual event, all with the Red Bull logo featured front and center.
Key Takeaway: Find opportunities to create strategically relevant, high-quality, engaging content in everything that you do. Red Bull may be an energy drink company, but very few of their posts had to do with “selling” the product. If you keep your brand top of mind while keeping the readers engaged with the content they have come to expect, they’ll remember it.
3 – Tailored Messages for Specific Platforms
The Strategy: In daily updates leading up to the jump, Red Bull created content that was specifically crafted for each of their social platforms. Tweets contained a fact about the event, statement or quote with just enough room leftover for a seemless re-tweet. Facebook posts contained pictures with text that provided more in-depth analysis or commentary that could be quickly and easily absorbed and shared. Blog posts were longer form content that gave in-depth coverage of the event for interested fans.
Key Takeaway: Avoid “shotgunning” content – where you create a single post that goes simultaneously to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and other social media platforms. Craft your content to be optimized for easy reading and sharing for each platform, and call users to action. You’ll be surprised at the amount of engagement that comes from simply asking users to respond in some way.
4 – Long-Term Thinking
The Strategy: Red Bull clearly began with the end in mind – they would be dropping a man from the edge of space. They knew there would be financial commitments, safety concerns, doubters, and elements out of their control (like the weather). A project of this scale took careful planning, testing, and constant adjusting to get the message across to the audience.
Key Takeaway: Treat your social network like the communication tool that it is. When online presence is the primary source of marketing for your brand, Facebook posts and Tweets are no different than press releases and media interviews. Don’t outsource your social presence to a college intern who has no background in marketing, PR, or brand communications – take the lead and define what you you’re your long-term brand positioning to be.
In this day and age almost every major event has an element of web integration powered by social media. The recent Olympic games and Presidential debates are great examples that have empowered the viewer to become more than just a passive consumer, and interact with the brand. In the case of Red Bull Stratos, they managed to outshine these examples, and produce a world-class marketing campaign that any brand can learn from.