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Spotlight on social triggers: Urgency

by Molly Flatt on 10 December 2012

Having talked last week about the value of slowing down, today I’m going to look at the flipside: creating a sense of social media urgency around your product, service or brand.

Deadlines are one of the oldest marketing tricks of the book: just think of that DFS sofa sale, 48 hours away from ending for the past 20 years. But we’ve become hardened to such tricks, and with real time-pressured tasks such as work deliverables, tax returns and – oh lord – Christmas presents clamouring for our attention, it’s much harder for brands to stimulate an adrenaline response that hits deep, drives action and makes us gabble to our mates.

Nowadays, we need genuine scarcity and real-world visceral experiences to get our hearts pumping. The ultimate exemplar? Coke Zero’s recent Skyfall vending machine campaign.

Online retailers are increasingly using group buying deals and time-limited auctions to drive us into a spending – and sharing – frenzy, but that sort of over-consumption is looking tired.

A sexier way to harness urgency is to be found in pop-ups, but they’re also becoming ubiquitous, so you need to find an extra element to make them shine. Kelloggs recently opened a pay-with-a-tweet pop-up shop in Soho to launch their Special K range of Cracker Crisps. Over in Copenhagen, chocolatier Anton Berg’s temporary Generous Store brought a neat charitable twist to the idea, as customers could only buy chocolates in exchange for a pledge of a favour to a friend, instead of cash. And this autumn, In ‘N Out Burger – proven past masters of word of mouth with their secret menu – chose a brilliantly obscure Hendon restaurant in which to embed their first ever UK outlet for a mere four hours. Eschewing glamour and PR for something so grassroots and ephemeral was an on-brand masterstroke.

Similarly, limited editions work well in a world where everything is mass-produced and instantly available. Brands such as Nike Golf regularly find success with exclusive limited edition merchandise available only to Twitter followers. In Canada, Pizza Hut jokingly released a limited edition pizza perfume for their most hardcore Facebook fans – and then received a deluge of demand from other (presumably single) customers.

Above all, urgency translates best in social media when you’re maximising FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out. This nice little infographic from TimeRazor will remind you how to work with the great social anxiety of our age.


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