Social Media Guerrillas


guerrilla_smallADOTAS – The guerrilla marketing movement started in the 90’s when traditional forms of advertising and marketing got, well, boring. It’s an umbrella term that refers to any kind of untraditional marketing that is unexpected and unique.

Wikipedia defines guerrilla marketing as, “…an unconventional system of promotions that relies on time, energy and imagination rather than a big marketing budget. [They are] potentially interactive;[1] and consumers are targeted in unexpected places. The objective of guerrilla marketing is to create a unique, engaging and thought-provoking concept to generate buzz, and consequently turn viral.”

While guerrilla marketing is most often cited for its creative and artistic ideas, its reliance on word of mouth to spread its message has converged with social media and online marketing. Even in Wikipedia’s definition you see a crossover with terms like “buzz” and “viral.”

To show just how much the two disciplines are converging, I looked at how Mike Smith’s five big guerrilla marketing trends for 2010 cross over into the online space.

1. Giving away your knowledge — for free

If you’ve spent any time in the social media marketing space you know that this is one of the basic concepts of inbound marketing and a pervasive idea in the social media world. Chris Brogan routinely gives away social media tips on his website, and guerrilla service provider Attack! is doing the same thing with a series of guerrilla tactics tutorial videos.

2. The lower the cost, the better

Talk about convergence. Guerrilla marketing is all about making a meaningful impact with a small community of influencers and turning that word of mouth momentum into a positive, viral campaign.

Sound familiar? By hiring just a few brand ambassadors to do a campaign and a specific event you can reach thousands of people. And social media is inherently low-cost. Most of the networks are free to join and designing your own messaging and campaign, while it does take time, can cost you nothing.

3. Online websites will start promoting offline

With the growing use of websites as a hub for communities, we’re already seeing websites, twitter accounts and Facebook pages on offline merchandise. And what better way to get that merchandise into the hands of the people who will follow the path than through a guerrilla street team at an event? Or chalk stencil it onto the sidewalks in the neighborhoods of your target demographic?

4. Giving away your product/service for free

Guerrilla marketing has long utilized the tactic of giving away samples, but giving away the services themselves for free? This year many guerrilla marketing agencies and ambassadors are finding that traditional marketing agencies are catching on and trying to do the same kind of things, but they don’t have the expertise in staffing or outreach strategy.

Guerrilla marketers who seek out those larger agencies and offer their services on a small program will have a much better chance of getting hired when the larger programs come along. And that is exactly the theory behind using something like Twitter to offer advice to other people in the field.

In a sense, it’s Guerrilla B2B, catching someone off guard with something they want.

5. Word-of-mouth marketing will be front and center

Word-of-mouth marketing could easily be a synonym for both guerrilla and social media marketing. Both rely on getting influencers excited enough about a product or service to go and tell their friends.

With the increasing number of people who use social media networks, it’s becoming common for people to hear about or see something in person and immediately post a picture, video or status update about it on their social media networks. In that sense, word of mouth is the ultimate convergence of these two methods.

I expect to see the guerrilla marketing strategies of unexpected and exciting continue to converge with the social media strategies of community and virality. It only seems natural that we will continue to see more and more social media guerrillas.


  1. Good points, and they actually do work. I’ve done a number of online marketing campaigns using offline and unorthodox methods (my specialty) and spend a ton less for a ton of conversions.

    Coffee Shops, libraries, laundromats, tanning salons, and dry cleaners were my goldmines.

    And don’t forget, this also works well with social media and when there is a win-win-win for everyone.

  2. Word of mouth is certainly where it’s at. I don’t believe it has the power to carry a company to the top all by itself, but if a company is not concerned with what people are saying(referrals), they are missing out big time. Referrals, or the lack there of, can make or break a company. Especially in the start-up years. Sheldon McCravits – Marketing Maven |

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