4 Ways Brands Can Participate in Geek Culture
You can’t market to them, so best to join them.
Two important events are about to converge in the geek/nerd community: gaming’sFall launch season, and the releases of Disney’s Doctor Strange and Star Wars: Rogue One.
Brands will no doubt attempt to surf the impending tide of virality that this media will generate, as well as they should. DMN has pushed brands to engage with this powerful segment of the millennial population for some time now.
We also acknowledge that reaching “nerds” is extremely difficult. These consumers are so ad-adverse that it almost seems like a tradition to slam advertising, and brands that try to gain a foothold often find themselves the butt of some internet joke.
Marketers must take a more organic approach to their trade if they hope to gain real traction with this demographic, and while influencer marketing is certainly a viable approach, sustained authentic participation is even more so. Here are four ways brands can not only market to geeks and nerds, but actively participate in geek and nerd culture.
The most obvious and noncommittal method of joining the conversations geeks are having is through hashtags on Twitter.
Doctor Strange, for example, will release in a flurry of hashtags and gifs. Brands can follow the discussions about the movie by simply following along, and jumping in is only a matter of drafting a tweet. As long as the tweet has some relevancy to both the film and the discourse around it, hashtagging is an effective and efficient way of joining the conversation.
Memes are an integral aspect of digital life, and a significant portion of the web’s funnies are generated and shared on this site.
Imgur, and its functional cousins Gyfcat and Gify, exists as a hybrid social network/image hosting service. Users upload and share images, but the images (and the site itself) are organized around sub communities. The allure here for marketers is in Imgur’s status as a generator and aggregator of memes, specifically memes relating to geekdom.
With the recent launch of its mobile promoted posts, Imgur is now not only a window into the (near) future of viral media, but one of the few places on the web where brands can effectively target this anti-advertising demographic.
Whether through Facebook or Google Plus groups and community pages, subreddits, or any random vBulletin fansite, internet forums are incredibly nuanced looks into the culture of a given subculture.
Brands can learn much by simply lurking around popular message boards like Reddit’s r/gaming or Slumz.Boxden’s games section for a peek into the digital culture that surrounds gaming. Especially adept marketers will even distinguish the differences in the way Boxden and r/gaming discuss games.
In a perfect world though, brands not only engage in these discussions with other posters, but become the topic of the threads themselves.
This is a more expensive option, but probably has the most resources spent-to-ROI conversion rate of the three listed here.
Beyond major product releases, many fans of geek/nerd culture attend high profile events like Comic Con, E3, Pax, or the fighting game tournament EVO. A brand that is positioned prominently and frequently enough can eventually earn cultural equity in the culture.
Mountain Dew is one such brand that has become intrinsically tied to gaming, but we see effective sponsorship strategies playing out with brands like Red Bull (a company that has become almost synonymous with extreme sports and urban dance).