Corporate Eye

Brands Hope Virtual Gifts Can Drive Buzz

michael_mooreIf you could give someone a virtual Miller Genuine Draft via Twitter, would it make you want to buy one?  That’s what some brands are hoping for thanks to a tool from AdNectar that enables Twitter users to give virtual branded gifts to one another, similar to how Facebook users can send virtual gifts to each other.  The goal for companies is to create an online brand buzz that translates into more sales.  But will it work?

According to BrandWeek, a Twitter virtual gift campaign through AdNectar can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000 depending on the social media scope and duration of the campaign.  Malibu Rum, Nestle’s Toll House, Fisher-Price, Trident Gum, and Overture Films (for Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story) have already begun working on or launched campaigns.

There is no arguing that virtual gift giving on Facebook is popular.  Both branded and nonbranded virtual gifts can be shared on Facebook, but how will the tactic translate to Twitter?  We’ll have to wait and see.  The biggest problem is the potential to clutter users’ Twitter streams as Facebook walls have become.  We’ve almost gotten to a point in the evolution of Facebook where people need multiple accounts to keep the clutter separate from the real content.

Certainly, for people who use these social media tools strictly for personal reasons, the clutter might not be a nuisance, but the problem is looming in the not so distant future.  It’s a problem that many social media users are sure to face, particularly if they use their social media profiles for work-related purposes where sharing a Tickle-Me-Elmo Ticklegram or even seeing one on a business associate’s profile might not be appropriate.

For now, giving branded gifts on Twitter, Facebook, LiveJournal, etc. is still in its infancy, and the ROI is questionable.  It’s certainly a good brand awareness tactic, but it remains to be seen if the investment is worth it in the end.  Of course, by next week, there will be another hot social media marketing trend, but for now, head on over to your Twitter account and send a friend Michael Moore’s virtual hat.  Or maybe not.

Image: Flickr

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.