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The Secret Door: A Social Media Marketing Win

No doubt you’ve played with Google Maps’ Street View before. It can be handy when looking up addresses, or for checking out neighborhoods you’re interested in living in, or even for scoping out the places you used to live.

But what I didn’t fully understand until recently was how limiting of a name “Street View” actually is. Over several years and with the help of countless volunteers who have contributed 360-degree “photo spheres,” Google has amassed a litany of panoramas that go way beyond just street-level. And they’re all available for the whole world to see.

One of the coolest ways to check out these views is through an interactive experience called “The Secret Door (warning: music is set to autoplay, so if you’re at work turn down those speakers). Built by Safestyle UK using the Google Maps API, the experience opens with a view of an ornate door. Click on the door, and it opens randomly into one of 90 vistas selected from Street View. Pan left and right to explore. Then click “Take Me Somewhere Else” and the tool happily complies, whisking you off to another place in the world.

During my time inside The Secret Door, my “travels” included sea life at Heron Island in Queensland, Australia; a stunning autumn landscape in Tochigi Prefecture, Japan; a haunting view of trees in the mist at Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave, Midi-Pyrénées; the North Pole, where the flags were so blurred you could almost feel the frigid wind whipping about your face; opening kickoff of a football game in a crowded UK stadium; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; the Grand Canyon, Jackson’s Meat & Deli in Vancouver, BC; a brush fire in progress in South Africa; a candlelit restaurant in an old tunnel in London where citizens likely once hid from air raids; and a bath house in Japan.

Time suck alert: to borrow from Pringles’s long-running slogan, once you click, you can’t stop.

My only beef with the experience is that some locations had descriptions, and some didn’t — meaning you couldn’t always tell where you were.

The surprise twist? The Secret Door is actually a marketing campaign from Safestyle, a manufacturer of windows and doors for homes in the UK. Since its launch in February the microsite has gone viral, with over 10,000 tweets and 47,000 “likes.” I’d say that qualifies as a genuine success.

Whether it resulted in big sales of windows and doors is anyone’s guess, but major kudos to them for finding a way to drum up buzz and chatter around what would normally be seen as a “boring” product. Bonus points for making it so social-media-marketing and share-friendly.

In all, The Secret Door is a brilliant marriage of concept and brand; easily executed to boot — the ideal social media marketing campaign.

What did you think of The Secret Door?


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