In recent weeks, my hometown of Greenville, South Carolina has joined in on the wildly popular Hidden Cash trend. Started in San Francisco in late May of this year, the project was a way for real estate investor Jason Buzi and his friend Yan Budman to give back to the community. Within weeks, the effort took off, making its way around the globe with other cities joining in on the fun. Before I continue, I should let you know that Buzi and Budman recently ended their campaign, saying that they did not wish to turn their giving-back-to-the-community project into an advertising campaign and also that it had become a full-time job for both of them. Although it’s over for the fine folks of San Francisco, other cities have jumped on the bandwagon and are forging onward with these unique scavenger hunts.
The pot is usually around the $20 mark (at least in Greenville), which is probably not worth the effort of dissecting a clue, driving to the clue’s referenced spot, and manically running past other folks to be the first to unearth the coveted prize. But, it’s not really about the money, is it? And since it’s not about the money, what does this say about our culture? First, we like free stuff. There’s a childlike joy that comes from finding the treasure. Second, we love to compete. We will go to baseball games and dance in the stands with arms flailing just to win a one-size-fits-all shirt that will inevitably end up in the Goodwill pile. Lastly, and most important in relation to marketing, we enjoy being involved in something new. Popular trends make us curious and want to join in on the fun.
So how does this relate to content marketing? Let’s explore three ways you can mimic phenomena like Hidden Cash to help spread the word about your business:
1) Bring social media home in a personal way.
One of the things I love the most about the Hidden Cash project is that it promotes a sense of familiarity among people in the community. While I was researching for this blog entry, I saw several comments about how many conversations with strangers have been sparked because of a shared interest. Having people involved in your social media efforts not only gets them talking, it also creates a sense that they know your company (and each other) on a more personal level.
2) Play off key characteristics of human nature.
Like I mentioned earlier, most of us enjoy winning, the thrill of competition, finding the hidden treasure and getting something for free. Even if it’s just a few dollars or a hat or a gift card to the local Starbucks, interest will peak if you’re offering something, especially in the way of friendly competition.
3) Take advantage of partnerships with companies and local efforts.
While the initial Hidden Cash project was funded primarily from personal donations and not as a marketing endeavor, I’ve noticed a lot of companies getting involved in the contributions lately. This is a winning deal for all involved. This kind of advertising for your business, especially if you are small and local, can produce great results, and any donations to constructive projects like this are always helpful.
Although at its birth it was dubbed as being a potential corporate marketing gimmick, the Hidden Cash idea has proven to have some merit. All the hype aside, Buzi’s initial mission was to teach others the value in paying it forward and giving back to your community. If we learn nothing else from his efforts, it’s refreshing and uplifting to see someone helping out others and starting positive trends.
And, for all you Greenvillians who want to score some moola, the Facebook account for Hidden Cash Greenville is here.
Caralee Culpepper – Writer and Message Board Specialist
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