How do you get 100,000 fans on Facebook? Give away free t-shirts. People love free stuff. They also seem to love putting their photos online, even when they’re not looking their best. And Nyquil is taking full advantage. They’re giving away something for free, and they have more than 101,000 fans to prove it.
A Facebook app launched in December 2009, countless fans have joined “Nyquil Nation,” a community of people who claim they’ve found sleep (even though they had a cold), with the help of the well known “nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, fever, best sleep you ever got with a cold… medicine.” The premise is simple, upload a photo of yourself sleeping when you’ve got a cold, get 5 friends to vote for it (by signing up themselves), and you get a free T-Shirt. The person interested in the free shirt gets their photo posted online and the free T, and Nyquil gets 5 more visitors to the page. It’s a fun and quirky blend of community, self-promotion, and support for the product - and all rolled together it becomes a self-perpetuating buzz machine. According to a message posted on Nyquil’s wall, Nyquil Nation even has photos of sleeping Olympians - speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno, and snowboarder Lindsey Jacobelis.
When you add in the fact that every user who gets his or her free shirt might wear it around town advertising Nyquil to everyone they see, it’s easy to see how that free T-shirt has paid for itself many times over.
While the medium Nyquil is using is new, the idea isn’t. For years, marketers have been going to the people, showing up in public places and hosting special events designed to showcase their products and develop customer loyalty. Nyquil Nation is doing the same thing, but instead of going to the people, it’s encouraging the people to bring each other to it. We say kudos that they’re on Facebook, and that they’re putting a fresh face (well, maybe after the Nyquil does its job) on traditional marketing, and continuing to build awareness for the brand. And they might just be reaching a new, potentially younger, audience in the process. Nyquil is already a well-known product, with memorable TV and print advertising. It’s great they’re not stopping there.
The only thing we wonder is why the Nyquil Facebook page doesn’t allow messages from fans. The fans are obviously contributors to the site and its content by providing their photos and luring their friends there to sign up too. It seems unusual that they wouldn’t be allowed to share their opinions. As for the posts made by Nyquil itself, they’re almost exclusively focused on the Nyquil Nation promotion, which makes sense given the high level of recognition for the product. Overall this combination of offline rewards for online participation is an approach other over-the-counter remedies should consider.