3 Things Advertisers Can Learn from Shark Week

Becky Doles

Shark Week

It’s one of the most highly anticipated weeks of the year. With a cult-like following, Discovery Channel’s Shark Week has seemingly become as popular as the Super Bowl or award shows. On Monday, Discovery Channel kicked off Shark Week with more fanfare than ever – and, of course, a strong Twitter campaign to accompany it.

Shark Week has been a popular topic on Twitter for several years. (In past years I have even organized local “tweetups” and gathered friends at a local bar to watch Shark Week for a night.) In the past advertisers were not so savvy about bidding against the #SharkWeek hashtag – or even latching onto the hashtag at all. This year, however, dozens of brands realized the audience they could reach via Twitter and created some interesting campaigns leveraging the #SharkWeek hashtag. Based on this behavior, here are three things all advertisers can learn from Shark Week:

1. Twitter is becoming the first screen

Television viewers are increasingly turning to Twitter to talk about TV shows – even if they aren’t watching the show at the time. Even though Shark Week shows don’t begin airing until 9/8c, a quick glance at #SharkWeek via Twitter search shows TV viewers are turning to Twitter throughout the day to talk about the event. As with other popular TV shows and larger events, Twitter users who aren’t watching are also joining the conversation by using the #SharkWeek hashtag. Twitter is becoming the first screen audiences use to familiarize themselves with a show or event, even before they turn on their TV. It’s important that advertisers know where the show’s audience really is – and it’s not necessarily on TV.

2. Real-time marketing works

As demonstrated during the Super Bowl and the Oscars, people are glued to both Twitter and their TV when watching major events. During the Super Bowl, Oreo’s infamous blackout ad, which was promoted via Twitter, generated buzz about the brand that lasted for weeks. Many people watching major events like the Super Bowl and Shark Week are also engaged in the conversation about these events on their smartphones. Brands that can insert themselves into the conversation with relevant real-time marketing will be able to reach an audience that is already listening and captivated. These same brands that leverage real-time marketing well during events like Shark Week will also likely be able to drive more conversions, as relevant advertising tends to draw not only more eyeballs, but clicks as well.

3. The media pays attention to creative campaigns

During the current Shark Week several brands have already received praise from the media for their creative real-time marketing campaigns on Twitter, including Tide, Volkswagen, and the Weather Channel. While Tide’s tweet has 114 retweets and 78 favorites (at the time of my writing this blog post), the extra attention from media like AdWeek helped the ad reach thousands of more people who may have not otherwise seen the ad. Oreo and other brands that leveraged real-time marketing during the Super Bowl can also credit the media, which talked about these creative campaigns for several days after the game, for helping boost brand awareness well beyond the campaign itself.

If you’re an advertiser, real-time marketing can be a great opportunity to reach a targeted audience that is already engaged in a conversation around a similar interest in your brand. Just be sure your campaigns are actually relevant, and whatever you do, don’t hijack a hashtag, as that will be sure to backfire rather than benefit your brand.

Becky Doles

Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.

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