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Social Push & Pull: Definition & Examples

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

If you want a good balance on your brand's social media account, consider push and pull marketing strategies. In this lesson, we'll explore the two, note their differences, and look at a few examples of each.

Target's Push-Pull Strategy

If you mosey through Target's social media channels like Facebook and Twitter, you'll find a bevy of different posts, like these:

  • A post sharing a video from a popular 1990s boy band
  • Photos in celebration of Mother's Day
  • A promotion for a hot video game release
  • A coupon for 20 percent off all movies
  • Tips on ways to rock a new pair of black heels

All of these come from the same marketing department at the same retail store, so why would we classify them as different? The marketing strategy behind each of them is as different as ''push'' and ''pull.'' In fact, they are social pushes and social pulls, which is the focus of this lesson. Let's take a look at how these verbs fit into a corporation's modern social media marketing strategy.

The Balance Between Push and Pull

Before we dive into each concept, let's start by explaining that brands need to both push and pull, just like brands need both a social media strategy and a more traditional marketing strategy. Pushing helps get your products out there in front of people. Pulling encourages people to seek you out as a business.

Social Push

The idea behind push marketing is pretty simple: push your products and services toward consumers. In push marketing, the brand controls the message, the platform and the timing. Have you ever visited a department store where the associate at the fragrance counter tried to push a cologne sample on you? If so, you probably got the hint pretty loudly: here's our fragrance and we want you to buy it.

Push marketing is great for people who aren't aware of your brand and what you offer, or for trying to encourage people to make a purchase. In fact, you might even use it to offer links and sales items for a social media crowd. Push marketing is very much like the traditional advertising you're accustomed to: billboards, flyers, circulars, magazine advertisements, all in the platform of social media.

Push marketing in often referred to as outbound marketing, since a company is pushing its message ''out'' to its audience. The audience may or may not make a purchase, but the information is out there nonetheless.

Social Pull

If social push is pushing marketing out to consumers, social pull marketing is about trying to pull customers toward your brand. Social pull is also referred to as inbound marketing; that is, pulling customers ''in'' to your message when they are interested in something you're talking about.

Pull marketing is especially effective on social media because it thrives on social sharing and word-of-mouth between consumers. Social pull focuses very much on building brand awareness and increasing visibility so, in particular, viral posts are very important. When something ''goes viral,'' it means it's being shared many times over by an audience. Think of Nike's ''The Switch'' video featuring soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo. To date, it has received more than 64 million views, many due in part to social media shares.

The more subtle nature of pull marketing, which creates interest but doesn't hard sell to viewers, helps build relationships between a brand and its consumers. Essentially, you produce something of interest that consumers want to check out. Another great example is Amazon's concept of customer reviews. Many online shoppers make a purposeful trip to the site to sift through customer reviews to help in buying a product. Though not social, this is a pull technique that is effective.

In the social sphere, pull marketing could include a free download for clicking and visiting a brand's website, an eBook, or link to a blog post.

Push v. Pull Example

Let's take a look at the popular brand of cookie, Oreo, and see if we can find examples of both social push and social pull marketing in action.

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