We live in a digital world—so does that mean traditional, grassroots marketing is no longer relevant? To answer this question, you have to start at the definition of grassroots marketing, which is defined by Hubspot as:
“A strategy where brands create content that’s highly targeted to a niche or specific audience. The goal is to reach a target audience with content that inspires them to amplify and share your message.”
When considering what grassroots marketing actually is, you can see that it’s still very prevalent. While tactics have changed in the digital era, the core principles are the focus of nearly any marketing team or organization: reach your niche audience and get them to amplify your message.
More importantly, this style of marketing is even more powerful than ever before thanks to social media. Use this guide to bring grassroots marketing into your content strategy.
Modern Grassroots Marketing Tactics
One of the best ways to understand grassroots marketing is to understand what it looks like in the digital space. A few common ways brands leverage grassroots-style content promotion include:
- Brand ambassadors: These are the customers that love your products and the more brand ambassadors you can bring on, the more you can amplify your message to a specific audience.
- Influencers: Influencers, unlike brand ambassadors, are usually paid to share your product. This pay-to-play style of grassroots marketing achieves the same important goals: reach a niche audience and get others to share your message for you.
- Organic viral content: Viral campaigns are the perfect example of grassroots marketing in our digital world. In most cases, these viral posts or campaigns get picked up organically and take with them the message of the brand that created it. This isn’t always easy to achieve, but going viral can be a turning point for the brand.
- Engaged communities: You don’t need to have brand ambassadors, influencers or viral content to make grassroots marketing work for you. An engaged community that loves your content makes it possible for you to leverage this style of marketing. If they love what you’re sharing, they’re more likely to share it themselves, allowing you to reach even more people in your niche audience.
Grassroots Marketing Case Studies
Many brands have tried to create viral grassroots campaigns but few have succeeded. While it’s difficult to replicate a viral campaign—it often happens unintentionally—it is possible to emulate the strategies of others. Consider these brief case studies as inspiration for your grassroots marketing strategy.
One of the most well-known case studies of digital grassroots marketing done right is the Twitter account for Steak-umm. Most of the time, this account posts pictures of meat with light captions encouraging people to eat it. However, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, this account took a left turn. It posted a series of tweets challenging bad data and encouraging followers to think critically.
The message seemingly came out of nowhere and was so unexpected from a food brand that it spread across the web. One tweet has more than 73 thousand likes and 1.8 thousand comments.
Takeaway: Sometimes you need to shift your message to shock your ideal audience, which can then amplify your message.
The White and Gold Dress
While the viral white and gold dress sensation was started by Scottish singer Caitlin McNeill, brands jumped on the bandwagon to get their moment in the spotlight too—and got plenty of engagement in doing so. For example, check out these Tweets:
- DunkinDonuts’ tweet got 2.5K RTs and 3.8K likes
- Tide’s tweet got 7.7K RTs and 10.5K likes
- Oreo’s tweet got 1.3K RTs and 2K likes
The key to using this tactic is to keep it relevant and avoid overt promotion. Each one of these brands featured their product in the tweet and didn’t include a link back to a product or website. They joined in on the conversation and their content soared as a result.
Takeaway: You don’t have to start the viral snowball to win from it. Keep an eye on the trends to jump in when it’s relevant for your brand.
Grassroots Marketing Strategies for Better Content
You don’t need the budget of Oreo or Tide or go viral on a global scale to make grassroots marketing work for your brand. You can keep grassroots marketing at the core of your content strategy to reach more people and grow your brand. Here are a few simple but crucial best practices to do exactly that.
- Niche down your audience. Grassroots campaigns work because they’re focused on a very specific audience. Your message needs to resonate with that niche if you want them to help amplify what you’re putting out there. When done well, your campaign will start in one small part of the web and move across the internet.
- Be authentic with your brand voice. Modern consumers are savvy. They know when you just want to sell products under the guise of viral marketing. In fact, 51 percent of consumers believe that brands create content that doesn’t resonate as authentic. Whatever content you create, maintain an authentic voice and stay real with your audiences. If you’re always out to sell or promote, you’ll struggle to get them on board.
- Create a clear call to action. Your grassroots campaign needs a clear end goal which translates to a call to action, even if it’s not to buy something. For example, you may urge your communities to support a cause or check out a video. No matter what it is, remember that people are more likely to take action when you tell them what to do.
- Push the envelope. Your campaign needs to stand out if you want it to spread. Challenge your team to break out of the normal content box to do something new. Don’t forget about jumping on relevant trends to shock or implore your audience into sharing your message.
- Focus on value and entertainment. People want to share what they find valuable or entertaining. A great testimonial will never go viral. Focus on creating content that compels your niche audience to share because it’s so good, they just have to tell their friends about it.
Grassroots Marketing is Alive and Well
Grassroots marketing is at the heart of all great digital marketing campaigns today. By following a few best practices, you can leverage this traditional, yet relevant, style of marketing in your own content marketing. Use these ideas and tips as inspiration so you can create more content that appeals to a niche audience and implores them to share.