Experience vs. Exposure: When And Why Your Brand Should Try Skinnydipping
Experience vs. Exposure: When And Why Your Brand Should Try Skinnydipping
Experience vs. Exposure: When And Why Your Brand Should Try Skinnydipping
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Skinnydipping under the stars…if you haven’t tried it, clear your schedule tonight, grab some friends, and go experience it; if you have, take a moment to relish the memories. Swimming naked in the daytime is more about seeing and being seen, and, for most, that’s a highly uncomfortable idea; it’s about Exposure. But stripping down at night, that’s about Experience. It’s about the setting, the group, and the adrenaline of the shared moment. Nightswimming is not about awkwardness and skin, but about a shared experience and the singular excitement of taking the plunge together.

As marketers, we spend much more time focused on exposure (though generally clothed), baring our ideas, thoughts, and top 10 lists to the world, while asking our audience to bare themselves for our benefit. Too often, brand marketing is skinnydipping in the daytime; we want you to see us, and we want to see you. But perhaps it’s time to try nightswimming with our audience, instead. Perhaps it’s time to invite others to the experience and collaborate on a moment that matters, a moment that makes an impact, and a moment that is intimately unforgettable.

Nightswimming deserves a quiet night

NightswimmingI’m pretty sure that skinnydipping is not a bullet point in your marketing strategy, so how do you create such an experience?

  • Find an intimate, collaborative space/project/idea, and invite your audience to join as equal partners;
  • Recognize that there is no agenda, no predefined outcomes, no right, no wrong, and no judgement;
  • Establish that there is no leader, and everyone is welcome to dive right in;
  • Always focus on the experience, and do your best to minimize feelings of exposure.

The key to nightswimming is to singularly focus on creating a positive shared experience. You wouldn’t ask your friends to skinnydip in the first body of water that you stumble upon, and you wouldn’t ask them to strip down first. It’s not about the water, and it’s not about the individual participants; it’s about the experience. And when done in the right spirit, the results will be natural, memorable, and amazing. Nightswimming is not about being exposed or asking others to be exposed; it’s about sharing a vulnerable moment as a group, where all are bare and feeling that slight twinge of danger.

It’s not like years ago, The fear of getting caught

If you’re in, here are some nightswimming ideas to dip your toes into:

  • Create a shared asset
    • A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of collaborating with grad students twice a year on a finals study-playlist. At the end of the Fall and Spring semesters, we invited students to build a collaborative, public playlist using a service similar to Spotify. It was a zero-marketing, 100%-collaboration experience, and it was more intimate and revealing than we had imagined. Once we found the experience (real-time music sharing), revealing self and breaking down walls came easy for all who participated. What began as a simple request for participation morphed into a time of heightened empathy and bonding. A shared playlist might not work for you and your fans, but think about what you could build together; how can your brand create a vulnerable, wonderful, shared experience?
  • Partner on a shared resource
    • Our SME team uses Pocket as a collaborative repository for articles, both for internal and for external sharing. Having one single account means that we are all swimming in the same water; we are all experiencing the space together. There is an intimacy in tagging an article with your initials, vouching for it, and allowing the entire team that glimpse into you. No, we do not Pocket in the buff (well…most of us don’t), but we are exposed collectively. The project is not about “look at me, look at me” (Exposure), but it is instead about the collective Experience of us, as a team. Is there room in your brand strategy for a shared resource? Can your brand create or find the space, invite others to bare it all, and can you then follow suit?
  • Define a shared learning 
    • About a year ago, 10 of my partners and I created a collaborative Prezi as a living, shared mindmap around our pain points. Over the course of six weeks, we worked together to build something amazing, something with no defined leader, and with no preset agenda. The project had nothing to do with exposure, nothing to do with showing off or hiding; instead, it was wholly about the experience. It was nightswimming at its finest, and the end result was a very raw, unclad presentation of our collective truths. It was an amazing experience, and it was what nightswimming is all about. If your audience is the least bit interested in partnering with you (not simply being preached at), take a chance and invite them into your experience. Ask yourself how you can more intimately create and collaborate with your audience; they will be amazed at the invitation and very likely willing to give you the naked truth.

Of recklessness and water, They cannot see me naked

If one of your goals is to be naked with your audience (and frankly, it should be), then recognize nightswimming for what it offers: experience, not exposure; collaboration, not prescription; a lasting adventure, not a fleeting moment of pseudo-partnership. Go find a quiet night, invite those who are open to sharing an experience with you, and don’t fret about the bare bits (they’re natural, after all). You will learn things you never imagined, expose things you meant to hide, and, in the end, you’ll wonder why you ever hesitated at all.

Nightswimming, remembering that night

Skinnydipping, whether literal or metaphorical, can be a beautiful and memorable experience. If you have a story, lay it bare below. And if you have an example of nightswimming with your audience, please share. Though the comments box below isn’t exactly the Jones Farm Lake, I’ll meet you there anyway and we can share an quick dip anytime.

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About the Author

Matt Hollowell
Matt is a lifelong student of design, marketing, publishing, and content creation. His passion sits at the intersection of content and design; in fact, you can often find him there with a cup of coffee in one hand and a notepad in the other. As SME's Creative Director, he supports both the brand and clients, which helps to satisfy his lifelong love of never knowing what's coming next. When not at his desk, you'll find Matt serenading his two amazing daughters, reading gritty British poetry, or obsessively listening to podcasts. Send him your podcast reccs here: @mhollowell.

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