Kudos to Mashable for pointing out a flaw in Tiffany’s latest promotion. The promotion asked consumers to log on to an app and/or microsite to input their most romantic moments on a user-generated map.

 

The idea is cool, and a great fit for Tiffany’s, but as Mashable pointed out, a bit clunky when you have to remember the microsite url, or download the app. Could the same promotion not be handled using existing social media platforms – Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr? Probably. I liken it to you spending a ton of money on a great outfit, fixing your hair nicely,  and then sitting inside your house and hoping people will stop by. Kind of a waste when the bar down the street is packed and the dress code is casual. 

Tiffany’s isn’t the only brand that has fallen into this trap, it is a reoccurring  problem because: 1. brands still want total control from a creative perspective and perhaps you could argue analytics. 2. (This is the most important here) agencies don’t make nearly as much money when they don’t have to build something new.

It always irks me to see an agency pushing a branded app when it probably makes more sense to advertise or co-brand within an existing app that has steady traffic. Do it the other way around and you end up spending money advertising this app you built in order to drive downloads so you can  justify the development costs. I’d rather spend money advertising my brand not my app.

Or, when an agency tries to get a brand team to invest in a Facebook app or custom tabs. Most people will come to your page once to like it and then they’re done. If they want to interact with a post they’ll do so from the newsfeed which means you can fancy up your page all you like, but few people will see it. Investing that same money in a Facebook ad buy, or clever content for your posts – video, copywriting help, etc, would probably do more good. Once in awhile you’ll see a branded app break through, but for the most part people are spending their app time on Mafia Wars, Farmville, etc. You know, the guys that actually make a business out of building and maintaing apps as opposed to viewing it as an add on to a marketing plan.

Finally, when it comes to web, everyone is different. If you have e-commerce, well sure your site is pretty important, but if that’s not the case, have a web presence but host your promotional activity where people are spending their time. Unless you are a news site or weather.com, people do not wake up and go to (insertyoururl.com). They are, however, waking up and checking Facebook, Twitter, etc. Be there and have your promotion live there so people don’t have to leave.

We’re all busy. If you can appreciate that and serve up your branded content where people are spending their time, my guess is you’ll have better luck and more interaction. Just a hunch and a good reminder to think of your customers’ needs first.