A childhood without Disney is like Timon without Pumbaa — Beauty without Beast. From the big screen to Halloween, cable TV to bedsheets, Disney is everywhere in the life of most children. Actually, if you’re between the ages of 3 and 93 and Disney wasn’t a part of your childhood in some way, I think it’s safe to assume you were raised by a meerkat and a warthog on the plains of Tanzania.
I, for one, was all about “Aladdin.” I idolized Princess Jasmine, and wanted nothing more than a pet tiger named Raja and to take magic carpet rides with a cute prince. I was a youngster when I first visited Disneyland, but the memories that really stand out are those Disney rite-of-passage moments, like meeting Jasmine in person and boarding Space Mountain with my dad.
Disney images did not become ingrained in my girlhood psyche by accident. Walt Disney founded his production company in 1923, and the Disney team has worked tirelessly to establish itself as a household name ever since. Even after Walt’s death in 1966, the entertainment brand could not be put out. It finally bounced back in the ’80s, becoming one of the largest media conglomerates when it took over ABC. Over the years, Disney has managed to add magic to our lives through their films, merchandise, music, and experiences, and they’ve done so by being there — everywhere — all the time. But a Disney marketing campaign takes full advantage of every avenue they take. All of their channels serve as a funnel into the next.
Although Disney as I knew it in the ’90s is as long gone as the horrible fanny packs we sported the entire trip, the magic remains. And what better evidence of that magic than the dollar signs Mickey and his friends rake in each year? Disney’s total assets are worth 88 billion because of their far-reaching and diverse franchise strategy. Take the hit movie “Frozen,” for example, which became the highest grossing animated movie of all time, with $1.3 billion in box office sales alone.
The appeal of Disney seems to get stronger and stronger every decade, and their products have a staying power that is unparalleled — in part, because they don’t make all of their wishes on one star. Think about it. Aside from the films Disney produces, they also make around $40 billion in merchandise, have five theme parks around the world, and still produce award-winning music, a TV channel, a radio show, and a vast internet presence.
Disney seems to have had the whole marketing strategy figured out early on in the game, with many interlocking pieces in a variety of different media. Walt knew, long before the rise of the internet, that his marketing output would mean big bucks for the company, if channels could connect to other channels to form a web.
This is the Disney marketing strategy from 1957:
Diversify Social Media Like Disney
The Disney of 1957 was playing to its audience at the time, using TV, comics, and magazines to market its products. With the rise of the internet, video games, and social media, this marketing structure has become even more complex, as Disney expands its reach to every corner of the globe and the consumer mind.
Disney has always been incredibly connected to its audience, but has taken full advantage of the internet — social media in particular — and has leveraged it so effectively to diversify a marketing strategy that they’ve managed to keep their empire — their kingdom — thriving by repurposing content across multiple platforms and building a strategy wherein content supports content.
Have a look at Disney’s all-encompassing social media presence, and how they diversify.
Disney tweets are as sweet as Snow White’s birdsong. They combine relatable, fun, and fresh updates and sneak peeks with the trend du jour. Don’t be surprised to see a “Finding Dory” tweet linked to their Snapchat handle or video link highlighting the opening the Shanghai Disney Resort on Facebook.
True to the artistic integrity of Instagram, Disney’s account is full of colorful images and videos. But they’re alongside more behind-the-scenes shots showing their human face, like the cast of “The Big Friendly Giant” on premier night … #nofilter.
Parents love Disney, and they love Disney’s Pinterest page. There they can find inspiration for Disney-themed art projects, quotes from the films, magical recipes, and printables. Disney has really expanded its focus on culinary arts for Pinterest, to reach the DIY-foodie demographic.
The Disney Facebook page, naturally, is brimming with content. Posting at least four times per day, Disney is regularly delivering movie trailers and announcements such as the Walt Disney World donation of $1 million to the OneOrlando Fund this June.
Disney does a great job using video series to promote their products. Their playlists and Top Ten series are also fantastic. And why not get a tasty recipe for Rapunzel Raspberry Pie while you’re in the neighborhood, or find out how to make a Chewbacca sock puppet or a “Finding Dory” jar aquarium?
Engage in Total Audience Immersion
Social media is an inexpensive and time-effective way to reach broad audiences. And it allows companies to connect and build relationships with their target demographics in a more personal way. But what can a business owner learn from Disney’s dynamic social media strategy? Here are a few pieces of insight gleaned from the most marketable product on Earth.
Be “part of that world.” Disney reaches out, and they reach out often. Do you have at least three active social media accounts? You should. And if you don’t have someone on staff with time to continuously update your accounts, at least make it a higher priority for your existing team. Posting to Facebook alone isn’t enough. Expand your horizons! Don’t be afraid to look into niche social media sites that have a very specific user base similar to your demographic, and post there too. The more specific your target audience, the more valuable your content can be.
Disney finds and selects moms, for instance, who blog about Disney products and experiences, and offers them unique access into a special group of Disney Social Media Moms, with the idea that they’ll expand the influence and create an even bigger online following for them among mothers (who they estimate make the most vacation and entertainment-related decisions in households). Although they aren’t paid, the moms receive discounts on trips and are invited to an educational vacation and conference held at Disney World, from which Disney receives a combined Twitter following of 5 million people in return. With this strategy, Disney wins customers by targeting its social media at the people who will influence more spending.
Remember to “go the distance.” Every element of your social media strategy should be strong, and one should not fall behind the pack. It might not seem like taking a few days off from social media would matter in the grand scheme of things, but followers will notice. Make sure all of your accounts are consistent in terms of how often you update and the messages you convey. Each of your investments of money or time should work to help the other, with your product at the core of everything you present to the world.
Go beyond the “bare necessities” of marketing channels. Anyone who knows anything about marketing knows that using only one marketing channel is a sore mistake. That said, many small business owners fail to diversify out of fear or because they feel uncomfortable with change. They focus too much of their efforts (both monetary and manpower), on one “necessary” avenue — whether it be email or TV ads — and forget to keep the other channels working simultaneously. Success is achieved through diversifying your investments, so you’re going to have to take a much more well-rounded approach to creating that marketing campaign structure if you want to see a better return on your investment.
When You Wish Upon a Tweet …
Since emailing and searching are the most popular activities people do online, and social media is the place where people spend the most hours (be honest, you’re probably on Facebook right now), you can’t let those platforms sit all alone while you focus on your direct mail campaign. In addition to your newsletters, your email campaigns, and your SEO projects, spend some time making your social media focus more clear. Connect with your audience often by presenting and sharing your brand message constantly.
The thing about social media compared to Disney’s 1957 marketing web is that the power to diversify is built-in. An overlapping social media presence will grab the attention of the public on a large scale and redirect that attention to other avenues in your company’s sphere of influence, always returning to the product at the heart of it all. Their relationship with your brand will be built on the influence you have over users who share, like, and follow your content.
If you’re like me, thinking about Disney has made you pretty nostalgic. A great place to get your fix is on one of their many, interconnected social media accounts. If that doesn’t make you feel like jumping into a giant tea cup or re-watching “Tangled,” I don’t know what will.