In my virtual travels kicking the tires of various apps and technologies, I’ve come across a couple branded photobooth apps that have resonated with me and I thought were well-executed. They’re both simple, fun, and create earned media which in turn promotes a TV show.
First there is KMco’s “Dead Yourself” app (iOS/Android) which allows you to take a photo of yourself and transform it into a zombie photo reminiscent of the Walkers from AMC’s “Walking Dead”. You can then share that image on social media or e-mail it to your friends.
There’s also the “Duck Dynasty Beard Booth” app (iOS/Android) which celebrates the A&E hit “Duck Dynasty”. In this app, you can superimpose one of the famous beards from the show onto your face and then snap a picture. The photo can then be e-mailed or shared.
And when these photos are e-mailed or shared, this forms a classic case of “earned” media, wherein audiences are using social media to spread your message without you having to pay them directly. I add that last qualifier because strictly speaking, a brand has to pay to get these apps built. But once they are built, there are few if any ongoing costs as the message goes out and spreads.
The above apps are special in a sense, because they represent a brand giving users a special dedicated & branded tool for self expression. This differs from, say, an Instagram photo contest, in that the platform is neutral and the actual image can only be so branded. A specialized tool can strike a much bigger tone with brand loyalists and create special media that those without the tool (i.e. less engaged audience members ) cannot create. As such, these sorts of apps become a powerful mechanism of brand advocacy that [when executed well] can trump a simple text-based social mention.
When a friend of a dedicated fan sees the cool picture that’s been created, they can become drawn in, wanting to create their own similar photo. And as they do, they become much more likely to care about watching “Walking Dead’ or “Duck Dynasty” if they didn’t care already. They in turn then become advocates, because what is the point of making one of these pictures without sharing it with your friends?
This sort of campaign tactic isn’t right for all brands. You need a brand that sparks the imagination of your audience and makes them feel like creating and sharing. That just doesn’t work for some product categories, but it does for many such as entertainment in particular. These apps also cost some money to build, so a plan needs to be in place with social media objectives to justify the initial cost outlay.
But if those prerequisites can be met, a branded UGC app could be just the right thing to anchor a brand’s short-term earned media strategy.