November 2, 2010

Lessons for brands launching social media campaigns


Authenticity, relevance, originality are among keys to success

JD LasicaAt BlogWorld Expo in Las Vegas, one of my favorite sessions was the presentation by consultants Dave Peck (a friend) and David Griner called Like It Or Spike it: Social Media Case Studies.

Any brand thinking of launching a social media campaign should internalize the lessons that Dave David — and the audience — identified. (Everyone got to vote on whether to like or spike each of the campaigns.)

Companies just beginning to embrace social media ought to also consider attending the Fifth Annual SNCR Research Symposium and Anniversary Awards Gala at Stanford this Thursday and Friday, where we’ll be unveiling the year’s top social marketing and social media case studies from major brands and agencies.

During the BlogWorld Expo session, Dave and David gave brief overviews of these and other campagins, with an overall set of lessons learned at the end:

Alt reality game for sci-fi show

Campaign: To help launch Season 2 of “The Colony,” Discovery Channel partnered with creative agency Campfire to make a Facebook-based alternate reality game.

Results: It received coverage in Mashable, Neatorama, MediaPost, AdFreak and other outlets. 59% of players who reached final “tune in” message went back and re-started the experience, and it received 350,000 page views in the two weeks leading up to the season premiere.

Judging: Peck and Griner said, Like It.

Cosmo photo shoot

CosmoCampaign: For its first global digital ad campaign, Cosmopolitan created a Facebook Connect app that simulates being in a Cosmo photo shoot.

Results: The launch received coverage in the New York Times but almost nowhere else. Only 3,800 of Cosmo’s 534,000 fans opted into the offer in its first week.

Judging: Peck, Griner and audience (me included) said: Spike It.

Edge Shave Zone’s hashtag theft

Campaign: In September 2010, Edge shaving gel began a Twitter campaign offering to help those who tweeted with a #soirritating hashtag. For some, rewards included iPod Touches, PS3s or Edge shaving gear. However, the @EdgeShaveZone account coopted the hashtag, which had been in use for some time.

Results: Fair amount of buzz, 4,930 tweets using #soirritating hashtag from Sept. 10 – Oct. 10, 2010.

Judging: David Griner, Like It. Dave Peck, the audience and me: Spike It … hard. Said Peck: “I hated it. These guys are trying to engage with people who aren’t engaged with the brand at all.” Lesson: There must be some nexus to your product.

Pee-wee’s Big Social Media Adventure

Campaign: When American Express declined to sell advance tickets for Pee-wee’s theater revival to its cardholders, the offer went to his Facebook fans instead — kicking off a landslide of social media support.

Results: Twitter: 590,000 followers. Facebook: 230,000 Likes. Extensive, glowing news coverage. Bottom line: $1.5 million in ticket pre-sales before the first ad was run.

Judging: Peck, Griner, audience and me: Like It.

Naked Juice’s Naked Truth campaign

Campaign: In a two-pronged Facebook campaign, PepsiCo’s Naked solicited “your personal Naked Truth” user-generated content for a chance at a Costa Rica vacation and brought the effort to college campuses.

Results: 14,615 active app users in first two weeks! 2,000 photos from campuses … were uploaded by the brand, with only a handful from fans. Minimal launch coverage

Judging: Spike! Spike! Spike!

Takeaways: What works in a social media campaign

Steve Hall of AdRants nicely summed up the key takeaways from Dave and David’s session:

1. Be authentic. In this medium, platitudes don’t work.

2. Make it brainlessly easy for people to participate. Don’t make people jump through too many hoops.

3. Make sure there is a clear and concise call to action. Too many brands are unclear in their explanation of how people should participate.

4. Avoid blatant self-promotion within the campaign.

5. Don’t make your call to action something that takes people away from your offering. Don’t make people go look something up online or look for a tweet during the broadcast of your television show.

6. Don’t stuff the ballot box. If you’re hosting a photography competition, don’t fill the gallery with your own brand’s submissions.

7. Do not ask every employee in your company to flood a Facebook campaign with Likes or drop hundreds of positive comments on a YouTube video.

I would add two more takeaways from the presentation:

8. Be fresh & original — offer an imaginative twist even on an existing idea or theme.

9. Be true to the actual reasons why customers like your brand.

Pretty good advice. What would you add? JD Lasica, founder of, is now co-founder of the cruise discovery engine Cruiseable. See his About page, contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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4 thoughts on “Lessons for brands launching social media campaigns

  1. Firstly, love the article. It is very revealing and informative. I would add that a company should make sure that they, or the Internet marketing firm they hire have the resources necessary to build an effective campaign. As in SEO, SMO is (correct) activity driven. Yet SMO not only needs to target potential clients, it needs to engage them on totally different level than SEO.

  2. Agree with Steve and also have money in media to support it outside of FB and social. People cant participate if they dont know it exists. Drivers from the brands sites as well as some targeted display never hurts.

  3. Positive brand or business outcomes depend on optimising digital insights into customer experiences. If this is done in continuous cycles, each time fine-tuning the brand's relevance and differentiation, then the brand will achieve first preference status for the prospect. Until then it is only a commodity. This is Web 2.0 marketing. If we can do this continuously by responding with branded answers in real time, then we are approaching the realm of Web 3.0 marketing. UGC, evangelists and prospects list grows and relationships deepen.