Category Archives: Social Media Case Studies

Social media business case studies: realtime marketing, PR, customer service and other campaigns that worked — or didn’t.

Weibo Users Embrace ALS #IceBucketChallenge in China; Raise $400,000 To Date

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has generated a fair amount of debate. Rich Becker sums up the arguments in support and against #IceBucketChallenge here. Whatever your perspective, you can’t argue with the windfall of $88.5 million and 1.9 million new donors that the campaign has raised to date.

Today I received an email from a PR firm answering one of the questions I’ve had about the campaign: has the #IceBucketChallenge made a splash outside North America? I am connected to a lot of people around the world, but haven’t really seen anyone outside of my American and some Canadian friends posting about the campaign.

Well it turns out there’s at least one other region where #IceBucketChallenge has caught on: China.

On China’s Weibo platform, over 1.58 million users have talked about #IceBucketChallenge, and a total of 1.43 billion people have viewed posts about the topic. Chinese internet users, from tech billionaires to celebrities have taken the icy bath in support of the charity.  In comparison, people have shared 1.2 million videos on Facebook and mentioned the phenomenon 2.2 million times on Twitter.

More importantly, Weibo’s users are also contributing to the cause and have donated almost $400,000–a fraction of the total collected so far, but I would guess that the ALS Association does not typically see very many donations from China.

Is #IceBucketChallenge a hit in your country, as well? Let us know!

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Fan-Powered PicCollage Contest Drives Impressive Engagement for Starbucks

PicCollage contestIs your brand looking for an effective way to reach teens?  The social media world is buzzing with information about the right social networks for the teen demographic, much of it focusing on Snapchat’s ephemeral messages and Instagram as a visual way to communicate among friends.

These bigger social networks are definitely worthy of attention; but there are other ways to reach teens – often with a high level of engagement – that may have slipped under your radar. Take a look at a recent case study involving PicCollage, a mobile app that draws millions of female users (mostly teens) who create collages and post them publicly.

Users post collages about what they love and get feedback from the PicCollage community. The app has been downloaded by 55 million females, with an average user age of 19.

One user, Poppy_xxx, decided to create a collaging contest on the app. A big fan of Starbucks, she asked PicCollage users to create their own collages featuring the brand, promising to pick a winner and feature him/her in a collage for her followers to check out.

The contest received 132 responses — meaning that each participant took the time and effort to create a collage specifically around the theme of Starbucks, just for fun and to see if they might win.

That’s the response for a contest from one user, with no marketing budget, and no brand backing her efforts or promoting her work. PicCollage did nothing to encourage users to create contests – it simply evolved organically as “an emergent trend.” Imagine what the response might be if the contest was promoted by Starbucks, or if the brand was backing Poppy_xxx as an ‘influencer’ on the platform.

Here’s the announcement from Poppy_xxx for the second round of the contest:

PicCollage contest case study

To see more responses, check out PicCollage’s post featuring its favorite responses to Poppy_xxx’s contest.

What’s the lesson for marketers? Brands should definitely have a presence on bigger social networks where their specific demographic is known to be present; but there are also lots of opportunities with smaller, niche social networks that can lead to impressive levels of engagement.

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How HTC One’s Smartphone Campaign Earned 54,000 Photos Worldwide

Brands using billboards in Times Square to encourage social media engagement is nothing new, but HTC One took things a step further with the brand’s “The Most Beautiful Smartphone” campaign over the holiday season. Over an eleven-week period, HTC One saw over 54,000 photos shared from consumers in five countries: the US, UK, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

HTC One photo sharing campaign [image: HTC web site]

HTC One photo-sharing campaign in Times Square

Submitting photos through Twitter, Weibo, Wiexin, email and the HTC website, consumers used mobile and social to participate in the contest (Mobile Marketer).  Prizes included: one free HTC One smartphone per week in each of the five markets, and a special drawing around Christmas and New Year’s for a 24K gold-plated HTC One phone (worth over $2,500).

Once participants submitted their ‘beautiful’ photo and it was approved for posting, they received a message from HTC that the photo was posted, along with an image showing the participant’s photo appearing on the Times Square billboard. This “digital keepsake” was meant to be shared on social sites, and also remained available in the ‘Keepsake Gallery’ on HTC’s web site (Adotas).

HTC supported the campaign via:

  • paid marketing across social platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Weibo and Weixin
  • a street team on high-traffic dates in Times Square
  • the HTC.com web site and the brand’s Facebook and Twitter pages

The campaign was initially planned for the US only, but quickly expanded to include the additional four markets as photos poured in. The campaign was powered by Aerva’s marketing technology software platform for integrating social and user-generated content.

“This campaign allowed HTC’s fans to express themselves creatively, become part of the campaign. We’re proud that our platform’s ability to seamlessly integrate social media, mobile interactivity and digital displays helped make that happen,” stated Sanjay Manandhar, founder and CEO of Aerva (Adotas).

The numbers speak for themselves; the campaign clearly drew an impressive amount of engagement from consumers. Was it fueled more by the lure of prizes, or the chance to see a personal photo displayed over Times Square? Either way, it was a big success for HTC One.

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American Apparel: “We’ve made as much as $50K in one flash sale on Twitter”

Twitter has proven itself to be a valuable marketing tool for edgy clothing brand American Apparel. In an interview recently posted on the Twitter blog, American Apparel’s Director of Marketing Ryan Holiday discusses a single flash sale on Twitter that earned $50,000 for the clothing brand.

Those are some pretty impressive numbers. Why does Twitter work so well for American Apparel?

Realtime Marketing Platform for a Realtime Brand

As a brand that creates, manufactures and sells its product on an ongoing basis, American Apparel considers itself a “realtime” brand and needs a marketing platform that can be used to continually highlight and push new products. This is quite different from the more traditional retail schedule that pushes out products each season, and in limited amounts.

Holiday told Twitter: “We’re not waiting to concentrate everything into one big media moment. Twitter functions really well with our manufacturing system because it is always on like we are, making new things.”

Consistently Engaging

With over 467,000 followers on Twitter, American Apparel is well-established on the platform, thanks to the brand’s commitment to engage users. Numbers have grown largely from organic growth, but also from the regular purchase of Promoted Tweets to push limited-time offers on Twitter; Holiday told AdWeek that follower numbers increased 40% from two years ago.

American Apparel on Twitter

In addition to regular posts (many including images) and flash sales, American Apparel also uses Vine on fairly regular basis, posting a new six-second video every week or two. “We use Twitter for announcements, giveaways, sharing photos, having contests, customer service—basically anything you can think of,” Holiday told AdWeek.

Images are a huge component for American Apparel’s tweets, generally filled with what AdWeek refers to as “sexualized imagery.” Nearly all the brand’s tweet in January included an image of some variety.

 Email Vs. Twitter

As it turns out, the two can work together for American Apparel.  Holiday told Twitter that “The best thing about Twitter is that it’s a short, immediate way to communicate with and reward our fans. With an email, you’ve got to spend time getting it coded, designed and tested. But on Twitter, we can get a message out, do a short flash sale or share a promo code instantly.”

Flash sales have been enormously successful for the brand, allowing short promotions (even for just an hour) that let the brand test and improve while discovering what consumers respond to.  Sales teams at American Apparel often leverage Twitter to meet goals or benchmarks, offering up a quick sale or free shipping to move the needle.

However, Holiday also revealed a new emphasis on Twitter’s Lead Generation Cards, which allow the brand to collect consumer emails via promotions. He told AdWeek that “Email is always going to be best medium to talk to your fans because it’s direct” and now Twitter can provide that data for brands (Facebook already offered a similar option.)

The brand is creating one or two lead generation campaigns per week on Twitter. These produced particularly strong results around Halloween, the brand’s busiest time of year:

  • one tweet/promotion around Halloween costumes led to 100 leads and 2% engagement rate
  • 50% of leads from these campaigns led to new emails (not previously in the brand’s database)
  • these leads had an average order value of $90, about 15% higher than normal average order value

Creating promotions to meet sales goals, focusing on visuals, marketing in realtime for a constantly evolving product, but also getting (good, old-fashioned) emails for direct promotions: Twitter is a platform for all these efforts from American Apparel, and they’re working.

Some final words of advice from Ryan Holiday: “You can embrace the benefits of the medium but you need your strategy to be aligned with what you do elsewhere.”  Could Twitter work for your brand in this way?

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Top Social Media Campaigns in 2013

What were the best social media campaigns in 2013?  From Oreo’s ‘Dunk in the Dark’  tweet at the Superbowl to Anchorman’s Ron Burgundy as a Dodge car salesman, there’s been plenty to choose from. Here are the top campaigns we published (based on traffic) this past year – and then one more for good luck.

Mr. Peanut Valentine's Day Facebook campaign

1. Best of Valentine’s Day Social Media Campaigns: Remote Romeos, Sexy Peanuts, #LastMinuteLovers and More: A compilation of the best campaigns for Valentine’s Day 2013, including a very sexy Mr. Peanut app with video greetings; Pizza Hut’s #LastMinuteLovers Twitter giveaway; Epson’s funny Remote Romeo contest; Puff’s ‘virtual kisses’ for charity and #MacysGoesRed on Facebook and Pinterest to help fight heart disease in women. From funny to heartwarming, these brands crafted special messages around the holiday and used social media to engage consumers.

2. 8 Brands That Played In The Realtime Marketing Superbowl: Which Was Your Favorite?: The big game drew a record amount of tweets, but the highest velocity was during the power outage. Brands that were spontaneous and took advantage of the moment saw incredible results on social media, including Oreo, Tide, Audi, Volkswagen, nonprofit One, PBS, Walgreens and Calvin Klein. If the lights stay on this year, how will marketers make as much impact on social during the game?

3. Orabrush for Dogs: Orapup’s Viral Video Gets 4 Million Views: Already highly successful with viral videos for their human product, Orabrush responded to consumer demand with a product for pooches, naturally accompanied by its own viral video campaign.  The videos – featuring dogs getting into stinky, gross items (baby diapers, anyone?) and then licking up Orabrush’s bad-breath killing “secret sauce” – garnered serious traffic and led to a huge amount of pre-orders.  And Orapup’s YouTube channel quickly leapt ahead of well-known pet brands like Purina and Iams.

4. Nike’s Instagram Campaign Lets Users Design, Share And Buy Custom Kicks: Nike was one of the first brands to get truly creative on Instagram, and this campaign allows users to design and share custom Nike sneakers — and even offers an option to buy the custom creations. Fans got to play with something new and different, and Nike got tons of exposure as fans shared their custom kicks with friends and family on Instagram.

Nike PHOTOiD Instagram campaign

5. Nails Magazine’s Pinterest Campaign Doubles Referrals From Social Sites: Nails Magazine saw the potential in Pinterest as a visual marketing tool and went about building their presence on the site in just the right way. Between personal invitations to key influencers and brand-specific Pinterest boards to get other companies involved, Nails Magazine saw a huge jump in pageviews, followers and referrals on the site.

And one more:

While it wasn’t among the top 5 campaigns on The Realtime Report this year, we loved the risk taking involved with Dodge’s choice of Anchorman’s Ron Burgundy as the news spokesman for the Durango. As it turns out, the right fictional character can make a great brand spokesperson, using humor to keep Dodge culturally relevant (if not as intelligent – or as focused on the product’s actual features – as more traditional campaigns).  If you missed it, take a look at ‘Hands On Ron Burgundy’ Mobile Game Promotes Dodge Durango, Anchorman 2 Movie and check out the video clip below. YouTube video from this campaign saw millions of views and Durango sales went up 59% in October.

What were your favorite social media campaigns in 2013?

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Virgin Atlantic Seeks #RedHotReporter for NFL International Series

Since 2005, the NFL has been hosting an International Series game in London every year. Teams struggling with fan attendance back home can stir up some overseas love by playing one regular season game in front of a majority European crowd (only 3% Americans/American ex-patriots).

Virgin Atlantic

In Virgin Atlantic Airways’ fourth year in a row as an official partner for the game, the company has once again taken to Facebook and Twitter to court a talented young man (or woman) to play the role of “Red Hot Reporter” during the San Francisco 49ers vs Jacksonville Jaguars game on October 27th.

The talent search requires entrants to tweet their entry to @VirginAtlantic with #RedHotReporter, along  with a video link demonstrating why they would be a good Red Hot Reporter. Entrants are also required to: be passionate about football and sharing content online, have a passport and not be afraid to use it, be “fluent in friendly conversation” and love “flying in the face of ordinary.”

The winner (or winners) will fly with the Virgin Atlantic team on October 24th from New York to London, and be expected to tweet a minimum of five times per day (from @Virgin_Atlantic) describing the journey at the NFL International Series, and then live-tweet during the game itself.

Last year, aspiring broadcast journalists Jay Ingber and Erin Sharoni were chosen as Red Hot Reporters, but the social media buzz for both of them, during the series, was generally quiet on both on Twitter and Facebook.

Adam Schefter, football reporter and television analyst, told YouTube viewers that Virgin Atlantic is looking for an outgoing, creative person with a “red hot passion for football and the journalistic chops needed to be a red hot reporter.”

So far, Dehlia Ford-Feliz (@PhilaDehlia, 1,947 followers) is getting a lot of support from her followers on Twitter. She is joined by a number of young TV and radio sports broadcasters – from around the country – vying for the Red Hot Reporter spot.

As 2011’s Red Hot Reporter Aubrey Aquino said in a recent tweet directed at an applicant, “it’s all about social media … so show them how savvy and networked you are!”

What do you think about brands recruiting fans to be their ‘voice’ on social media, whether it’s for a day or an event?  Is it an effective way to drum up interest and excitement?

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Johnson & Johnson #EyePledge: Selfies For A Good Cause

Johnson & Johnson #EyePledgeSelfies aren’t just the product of self-love or admiration; a new campaign from Johnson & Johnson is turning them into a form of donation.  The brand’s new “Take the #EyePledge” campaign is meant to educate participants (and their social connections) about the the importance of eye exams, and to raise funds for Sight for Kids, a nonprofit that provides eye exams for needy children.

How does it work?

  • participants take a selfie of their eye using their mobile phone
  • uers post their eye selfie through the Donate a Photo mobile app (free to download via Apple’s App Store or Google Play)
  • participants also promise to get their eyes tested
  • eye selfies (and the Sight for Kids donation) can be shared via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #EyePledge
  • users can upload one photo per day for the charity

Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 for every eye selfie uploaded to the app, up to $30,000; the money goes to Sight for Kids, which has provided free vision screenings to millions of children in Asia Pacific since 2002 (Mobile Commerce Daily).

Johnson & Johnson's mobile campaign to benefit Sight for Kids

What inspired the campaign?  World Sight Day is October 10, which is geared around a global call-to-action to “Get Your Eyes Tested.”

The concept behind the app was a simple one, taking an action people do every day, and turning it into a way to do good,” said Gary Esterow, senior director of public relations at Johnson & Johnson Vision Care (Mobile Commerce Daily). “Selfies are rapidly becoming a popular genre of pictures for people of all ages. We felt this was a fun and visually appealing way to engage people on this subject and deliver a call to action to get their eyes tested.”

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Measuring Brand Sentiment in Realtime: NetBase Analyzes Dr. Pepper’s Man-Friendly Campaigns

America’s “most misunderstood soft drink,” Dr. Pepper, had a social media image problem in 2011 after its “Not for Women” Dr. Pepper Ten campaign offended some consumers with its perceived misogynistic messaging. A year and a half later, the beverage brand tweaked the message a bit, coming out with a less anti-women and a more pro-men ad for the 10 calorie beverage called “No Man’s Land.”

How did Dr. Pepper manage to turn sentiment around and convince consumers it wasn’t a sexist soda manufacturer?

Social intelligence firm NetBase used Dr. Pepper as a case study to examine its new campaign management system (Insight Composer) which offers managers a realtime “social intelligence” report on the emotional climate of their campaigns. The data tracking is used to respond to negative and positive impressions in realtime, resulting in more of an ongoing conversation based on real responses.

Dr Pepper sentiment analysis via NetBase

Dr. Pepper sentiment analysis before “No Man’s Land” campaign [NetBase report]

In addition to charting “likes,” comments, and shares from brand-related conversations, Insight Composer uses a natural language processing engine (NLP) to parse out “positive” and “negative” emotions from the reactions. Those emotional reactions are then visualized in a “word cloud,” giving brands a glimpse into how followers and detractors perceive the campaign.

All information is charted in a sentiment and passion analysis graph, where the ratio of positive vs. negative responses to a social media campaign can be compared with the varying levels of influence that your campaign’s critics and supporters have (think Klout score, follower count). Knowing what is being said – and not said – allows campaign managers to budget appropriately as they determine what to emphasize in further marketing efforts.

Action verbs and adjectives are also accounted for. In a word cloud analysis of how people felt about the brand, Dr. Pepper was considered “nasty” following their “men only” controversial campaign.  Then, after the recent and more successful “No Man’s Land” campaign, the popular action verb of choice accompanying Dr. Pepper mentions was “drink.”

Of course, analyzing sentiment is tricky and not an exact science. In the above example, words such as “die” and “crap” might be placed into the negative category, while the overall tone of the tweet is more joking/positive.  In general, however, sentiment analysis can help social media managers inform their team about what’s working in a given campaign.

Is your brand looking for the right tool to track and respond – in real time – to the more emotional reactions from both followers and critics surrounding a current campaign?  How are you tracking consumer sentiment around your brand?

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The Yelp Effect: How Can You Respond To A Negative Review?

Managing Your Brand on Yelp: Los Perros LocosSocial networking review sites are becoming a much larger force in consumer decision-making than ever before. Sites like Yelp.com enjoy a position of trust in the minds of the public, based on the “word of mouth” factor.

How many consumers value review sites? According to David Mielach with BusinessInsider.com, “70% of people profess trust in the appraisals” — an increase of 15% in the last four years.

So when it comes to managing a brand’s presence both online and in the brick-and-mortar world, review sites–and how your brand responds to those reviews–can have tremendous implications on businesses large and small.

But how do you manage a situation in which your business has received a negative review?

As the owner of a small restaurant, Los Perros Locos in NYC, I recently had to handle a tricky situation just like this. A consumer gave a fairly scathing review, ranking the experience one star out of five and citing “Grade-Z hot dog meat.”  Knowing this review could turn traffic away, how could I remedy the situation?

Rather than disputing the customer’s claim, I replied to the customer on Yelp, showing my understanding that he didn’t enjoy his hot dog, and instead offering up hot dog alternatives: “one of our Pat LaFrieda Creekstone Farms beef “hamburguesas”, or our “Pollo Coca Cola sandwich (organic chicken thigh meat marinated in Coca Cola and Pineapple juice).”

This turned a negative review into a point of mutual understanding with the customer–and created a solution by providing a  product that might better suit his needs. In this case, the customer reacted by returning to the store, trying a hamburger, and revising his previous review to four stars with the comment “I’m now a believer.”

With over 400 Yelp views for Los Perros Locos per week, this conversation occurred in full view of every user who checks the page. By responding to the customer’s individual review and needs, I was able to create positive content out of negative, and to manage my brand’s reputation on social media.

What are your tips for managing negative reviews of your business?

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