History Channel on Four Square

Is anyone still convinced that location based services like Four Square have little application for marketers?  While the correct way to use the services most effectively may not be completely worked out, the potential is promising.  Time and greater use of the applications will go a long way in determining exactly how and to what extent they will be used to promote products and services going forward.

The History Channel is engaging viewers through Four Square as a way of promoting their April 25th, twelve hour television event, featuring the story of “how America was invented”.   Four Square users around the United States are encouraged to ‘check in’ to historical landmarks in their cities to unlock free tips (historical facts) and to earn a limited edition History Channel badge.  Those that participate are also entered into weekly draws to win history channel prize packages.

While it is still clearly a learning process as companies try to integrate location based services into their promotional offerings, those that work out the kinks early will more quickly determine how to connect best with their customers and reach wider audiences around the world.


Aflac Quacks it’s Way to Social Media Success

Have you ever heard of the American Family Life Assurance Company?  A question that would likely be met with blank stares welcomes a completely different reaction when the company is referred to by its acronym, Aflac.

In 2008 Aflac’s revenues were $16.8 billion, a 44% increase from 2003 results.  The biggest reason for the company’s sudden success?  A campaign centred around an ‘Aflac’ quacking duck.   Click here for Daniel P. Amos’ (Aflac CEO) account of how he fell for the duck, featured in last month’s Harvard Business Review. The company’s improved brand awareness and name recognition has made them a leader in the two largest insurance markets in the world, the United States and Japan.

Aflac is a great example of a company that has leveraged the success of a traditional ad campaign through the effective use of social media integration.   As evidenced by demand for stuffed replicas of the Aflac duck following the release of the original ad campaign, the duck created a brand ambassador customers had developed a connection with. 

Aflac created a website that allowed people to rework the words the duck sings in its Japanese Aflac commercials.  In only 2 months, over 100,000 people had posted spoofs of the song online.  Today, the Aflac Duck has over 170,000 Facebook fans (I just became one).

Social media has allowed Aflac to further develop the personality of its star performer.  The duck has become more than just a part of an advertistement. He’s the face of the franchise.  Interested in knowing about some of the duck’s personal interests?   Facebook has the answer:

“I like watching funny videos on the internet, and hanging out. Food network- especially that Paula Deen. Listening to music. Acting in commercials. Pretty much, I’m living the dream. I would be into French food, but they use more duck than I’m comfortable with.”