I’ve been noticing an interesting phenomenon in the social media / web marketing space recently that I want to call your attention to. It’s actually quite clever.
For a lack of a better word, I’ll call it “sitebait”. It’s a way for a company to create a viral website that’s very loosely (and almost imperceptibly) tied to their brand and what they’re offering.
Let’s take a look at two I’ve recently come across. I give you exhibit A…
1. Better Restaurant Websites
Better Restaurant Websites gives very basic (and clear) advice on what a good restaurant website should contain, in direct contrast to what really terrible and annoying restaurant websites currently do contain.
Who made it: Happy Tables – a WordPress-based monthly service that focuses solely on the restaurant market, helping restaurant owners build their own websites for a monthly fee (brilliant business, btw).
…and exhibit B…
2. Don’t Get Screwed Over
This site features a Vimeo video of a social “experiment” that parallels the experience freelancers have when dealing with clients. Specifically it calls attention to how a lot of freelancers are often (mis)treated and un(der)paid by reneging on a simple “draw something for $5” illustration in a park. It’s a video a lot of freelancers can identify with, since most of them have had to deal with some variation of the excuses the girl gives in the video.
Who Made it: Docracy – a company that makes socially curated & freely available legal documents to anyone needing forms online, with freelancers being a big customer base.
Taken together, both of these websites seem like a pretty good way to get attention and traction for a cause that you probably wouldn’t be able to get people behind if you just put it under your own company’s website.
So what are the similarities?
- Standalone domain
- A Single clear message
- A message a lot of people can relate to (in their own day to day lives)
The 3rd aspect of this is what’s most effective and intriguing – especially since they are specifically targeted to their audiences. In the first case – relating customer frustrations to a both customers and restaurant owners. In the second – relating the unfairness that occurs in freelancing to freelancers who have ever experienced this firsthand.
These are both clever and very non-intrusive ways for companies to subtly align themselves with a cause that a lot of people will (hopefully) identify with and retweet & like & post online, in a much more organic way.
I’m not sure if either of these companies have a more extensive plan to turn these sites into something more in the future or to make a clearer association between the site and their company’s services down the line. However, both seem to have gotten traction (looking at the number of likes and retweets).
A. What do you think about this form of subtly-associated promotion? Is it effective?
B. Have you seen any other examples of this that I can add here?