With eMarketer predicting that social network ad spend will exceed $4 billion worldwide in 2011, brands should start thinking about smart marketing on the platform. Energy drink Red Bull offers a model of how to succeed in social marketing, effectively engaging its target audience through interactive content.

Red Bull has more than 8 million Facebook fans, and one of the simplest ways it attracts these consumers is by offering them a variety of wall posts related to activites that energy drink-lovers may like, from extreme sports to procrastination suggestions. The company posts links to RedBull.com stories and then poses questions to fans, using its content to fuel conversation on the site. Individual wall posts have accrued upwards of 6,000 “Likes” and some posts garner nearly 500 comments.

The energy drink takes engagement to the next level by incorporating a social games tab on its Facebook page. Dubbed the “procrastination station,” the tab offers fans a variety of branded interactive games that capture the extreme energy of the drink. This is a wise move as the NPD Group says that more than 56.8 million consumers have played a game on a social site in the past three months. Plus, Brafton recently reported that social marketing games may soon become mainstream in light of Samsung’s successful launch of Thr!ve On.

Red Bull’s game tab helps connect gamers to each other through the “Drunkish Dials” section, where the company posts random texts sent by Red Bull drinkers. Fans have the chance to vote on their favorites.

The Facebook page also capitalizes on another emerging platform – online video. Red Bull has its own web TV channel, and it broadcasts its programming to social users. This content has not only enhanced social users’ experience of the Red Bull fan page, it has also helped the company reach a wide array of viewers with its video content. While the Red Bull Channel on YouTube has received 1.2 million channel views at press time, the web TV section of its Facebook page has earned more than 8 million “Likes.”

Other marketers may want to integrate innovative new platforms into their social marketing this year to better engage users on the increasingly cluttered channels. Social game use is on the rise, and online videos currently reach 43 percent of the U.S. population, as Brafton reported last month.    

Katherine Griwert is Brafton's Marketing Director. She's practiced content marketing, SEO and social marketing for over five years, and her enthusiasm for new media has even deeper roots. Katherine holds a degree in American Studies from Boston College, and her writing is featured in a number of web publications.