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Social media advertising or marketing is unlike many other forms of media marketing. This is the reason we hear so much more about brands and brand building in recent years even in casual conversation.The idea is a cumulative image that emerges – whether it is a corporation or an individual artist or a band or a non-profit. It is not about this one great advertisement that is launched on Superbowl Sunday but a package that includes timely updates and sparks conversation. This is the reason we find that there is a steady intertwining of pop references and social media branding in Facebook updates and in Tweets. It is tempting to write about what is in the news today because you know that will increase your web traffic right away.

Not withstanding the old adage that all publicity is good publicity, it is best to build a brand that reflects positive values. So, while some brands do fall for the trap of commenting on the trend word of the day in trying to use popular references, a la Kenneth Cole,  the better strategy is to be thought-provoking or tongue-in-cheek in the use of pop references and props. I think the way the Wonderful Pistachio folks have used Snooki and the Winklevoss Twins in their series of ads is an interesting model.

The immediacy of social media campaign launches allows the references to be really current. Here are some things to keep in mind about using pop references in brand building:

  • Be alert to everyday developments that can be relevant to the brand.
  • Make sure that the reference is not tacky or callous.
  • The idea is to be timely and immediate with the engagement.
  • The challenge is to ensure that it is part of the big picture of your brand.