Tweet Bombs and Waterfalls

Salto Grande (Patagonia Waterfall)

Consider Sun Tzu’s historic words, “The onrush of a conquering force is like the bursting of pent-up waters into a chasm a thousand fathoms deep.

The one tactic that seems to have struck most folks from last week’s #hungertohope campaign social strategy was the Tweet Bomb.

Roughly 120 bloggers and online influencers kicked off the World Food Day campaign off with a tweet or three. A story may be too much, but a tweet is certainly doable. Collectively, it created a nice surprise, starting most people’s days with a strong call to help feed children.

The effort was immensely successful from our standpoint, especially given some of the weaknesses of the overall campaign, generating 500 tweets in whole. The Tweet Bomb was absolutely necessary for a fundraising event that had very little momentum beforehand.

Our Tweet Bomb also showcased several bloggers’s posts, lending social credibility to the event. In all, it set the tone for another 900+ tweets until that night’s presidential debate…

To play off Sun Tzu, the bomb was a surprise waterfall that landed on the Twitterverse, and flowed throughout the day. In combination with other tactics, the effort drove more than 12,000 visitors into the Hunger to Hope web site.

#hungertohope struggled to convert donations (again, due to the aforementioned weakensesses with the story and appeal), but it was a big awareness hit for World Hunger Day, and the funding clients Yum! Brands and Razoo were happy.

Where the Waterfall Tactic Came From…

King of Limbs
Image by MatthewDR

While I’d like to take credit for the tactical approach, it was something I hacked from the RNC and their highly successful #firepelosi campaign in 2010, which was a featured case study in my book Welcome to the Fifth Estate.

The $16,000 RNC awareness campaign hit the web with GOP influencers propelling the message to the fore of Twitter with a #firepelosi hashtag bomb. Links circled the blogosphere through the deployment of more than 22,000 widgets. The effort leaked onto Facebook and turned into a fundraiser, eventually netting about $1.6 million, including eight online donations of $16,200 a piece.

But even the RNC was not original in the art of surprise.

Surprise is an excellent strategy for winning.

It’s as timeless as the Sun Tzu quote, and as prescient as right now when it comes to winning in crowded markets, particularly those that are not openly looking for a marketing message like a fundraising campaign or a purchase.

Another surprise strategy was Radiohead’s The King of Limbs release in 2011, announced just one week before the music was available on their web site. It trumped every industry marketing norm, a case study Gini Dietrich and I discuss in Marketing in the Round.

Applying Marketing in the Round theory, I would classify such strategies as flanking techniques, in large part because conventional means of direct, groundswell and top down marketing approaches are not easily deployed. Thus the guerilla marketing approach.

Waterfalls, Tweet Bombs, stealth record launches. Surprises.

Call them stunts, yet they work for branding, and then backed with substance with great calls to action and product, they can convert.

What do you think?