Lessons from Red Bull's space stunt and why you don't need a social media strategy

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Jasper Jackson, TheMediaBriefing Experts' Blog, Advertising, Digital Media

This is adapted from TheMediaBriefing's weekly Digital Media email newsletter. It's free to sign up, just click here.

This picture of Felix Baumgartner leaping from a balloon high above the earth shows the best social media strategy you can possibly have. All it required to go viral on a monumental scale was its intrinsic character - a piece of media that is so compelling, people want to share it.

It therefore comes as little surprise that caffeine injection system merchant Red Bull, which sponsored Felix Baumgartner's successful attempt to record the world's highest skydive, has been named the top social video brand by AOL-owned GoViral.

Red Bull has gone about sponsoring quality content in the shape of various extreme sports which are undeniably cool. That focus is summed up by its outlay on funding Baumgartner's stunt, which YouTube claimed was watched live on its site by 8 million people.

There are countless guides and firms dedicated to teaching the tricks of getting your content to spread across the web. But Red Bull just follows a simple formula best summed up by this Oatmeal comic strip.

What Oatmeal gets across is that there is no secret sauce to making the most of social (though there are some tricks that help) - it's just about making content that people want their friends to see.

Red Bull has got it right, but where are the media companies? Surely with access to so much content media firms should be able to market themselves successfully? It seems not.

Disney was the only media business in GoViral's the top ten, and there were only three in total in the top 100.

Media companies need to market themselves as much as any brand. Most don't have the funds to put a man in a stratospheric balloon, but they do have access to more high-quality content than most and the tools to create it. Yet despite this innate advantage, few media companies have mastered how to use social effectively for self-promotion.

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