If you didn’t know Red Bull was a drink, you probably wouldn’t learn that fact from the brand’s social media presence. Facebook classifies Red Bull as a “Media/News Company,” and the extreme sports content that the brand shares has more in common with ESPN than, say, a Coca-Cola commercial. Amid the rise of digital video, Red Bull has strategically positioned itself as a media company that just happens to sell energy drinks.
As traditional media companies struggle, Red Bull sponsors hundreds of extreme sporting events and airs the resulting footage on multiple social and hardware platforms. These videos have generated an impressive following, racking up 2.3 billion views last year, according to L2’s Digital IQ Index: Beverages.
Making a video popular on Instagram and Facebook requires captivating smartphone users. Visuals need to be strong enough to work on a small screen, without sound. Red Bull does this better than any other brand. If you put together all the interactions that Instagram users have had with Beverage brands, Red Bull would account for more than half of them. The brand’s extreme sports videos have attracted 63 million views on Instagram, according to L2’s study. Its nearest competitor, Starbucks Frappuccino, has just 17 million.
Red Bull not only airs videos across social media, but has expanded its media presence to other platforms. Like Netflix or HBO Go, Red Bull TV can be screened on Chromecast and smart TVs as well as smartphones. On Android, the Red Bull TV app has more than one million downloads. While it’s hard to say if that will translate into beverage sales, the brand has used its digital video presence to achieve the coveted goal of being top-of-mind – an increasingly difficult mission in a digital age.