Last night, I intended to go for a run, but it just wasn’t going to happen.
It was an all too familiar narrative for me in the early months of winter.
It was freezing cold outside. My kids were begging for attention. I was warm and comfortable where I was sitting. I lifted weights the day before anyway. The lame excuses were plentiful…
Then, I stumbled upon this bombshell…
It came from Nike’s Instagram account of all places:
The bad news? Winter is coming. The good news? You are not a bear. That means you don’t have to hibernate. You don’t have to hunker down, curl up or stay in. You don’t have to binge-watch seasons 1-4. You don’t have to let holiday traditions trip you up. You don’t have to get cabin fever. You don’t even have a cabin. It’s the weatherman’s job to tell you what’s headed your way. It’s your job to not let it get in the way. You can’t choose the weather. But you can choose your winter.
It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but it felt like the post was speaking directly to me and no one else. This wasn’t Nike shouting to it’s nearly 8 million followers. It was crafted and spoken directly to me, in the moment when it was most relevant.
…and despite being 36 degrees, it moved me to action.
My wife’s family, who we were staying with, looked on in surprise as I ran out the door in my shorts and sweatshirt.
As I started down the street, I began to wonder how and why I ended up out there in the freezing cold.
My motivation came from Nike. Not a friend, not a coach, not even a specific goal. I was out there running because of a faceless, billion-dollar company.
It’s really not. Nike’s message was crafted very strategically to hit me like a ton of bricks, and it did. Let’s consider what they did right:
1. Contextual Relevance. Nike’s message was spot on because of their careful consideration of the context and mindset of their audience at that very moment. For many aspiring athletes, the start of winter represents one of the most challenging crossroads of the mental game: the decision of whether or not to become sedentary when it gets cold. Nike’s message hit my feed right as that question started to loom, and provided inspiration to make the right decision.
2. One-to-One Voice. Great marketing feels like it was written to YOU, not a large group of people or an audience. Nike’s copy was written to speak to Garrett Ira, who struggles to get outside in 36-degree weather but desperately wants to maintain his fitness level through the winter. Despite reaching millions, the fact that it felt like a one-on-one conversation made it relevant to me.
3. Emotional Appeal. The ups and downs in fitness and health due to seasonality is an emotional process. As I debated how I would face the winter, Nike bluntly bottom-lined it for me: it was my choice to stay in or to go out. A direct and simple message with massive implications for my health and athletic performance. A mix of pride, guilt, and fear of regret, and motivation entered as I read – all emotions I’ll associate with Nike’s message.
4. Native Relevance. Instagram users are there to be moved, entertained, and educated by beautiful things. Nike’s post is moving for all the reasons I stated above, and the gorgeous winter image is the perfect vehicle to bring the consumer into the mind of the tiny runner tackling the massive, gargantuan winter. It’s no wonder the post has more interactions than any Nike Instagram post ever, at over 300K (despite not using a famous athlete, which they often do).
For me, this is the bottom line:
Brands CAN achieve a massive level of value & relevance in social.
…and your business doesn’t have to be as sexy as Nike to do it.
Brands that understand the role of context – both in the greater world and natively on social networks – have a huge opportunity to impact others, and therefore their businesses, in social.
How will your brand get it done?