Category Archives: Social Media Case Studies

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

Nails Magazine’s Pinterest Campaign Doubles Referrals From Social Sites

Best of Nail Art Gallery on PinterestA recent campaign by Nails Magazine illustrates the power of Pinterest as a visual marketing tool.   Focused on creative designs for nails, the magazine also runs a Nail Art Gallery site – a forum for nail technicians and salon owners to share nail designs and receive feedback in the form of viewer likes, comments, shares and pins.  The brand made a first foray onto Pinterest to help generate traffic, and saw huge results in terms of pageviews, Pinterest followers and advertiser dollars.

Setting Goals

Before the brand turned to Pinterest, the Nail Art Gallery site wasn’t generating much traffic, was seeing little engagement on Facebook, and subscriptions to the site weren’t drawing in much revenue or attracting advertisers.  Nails hoped that a Pinterest site would accomplish the following goals:

  • drive traffic to the Nail Art Gallery
  • demonstrate the Gallery’s value to advertisers (and attract more of them)
  • gain additional social followers

Creating the Campaign

In 2012 David Broyles, Web producer for the media brand that publishes Nails, created a Pinterest strategy with his social media team.  He told BtoB that he “had never done Pinterest before, but I found that others were doing community boards for nail art.”

The brand did some research and sought out influencers in the Pinterest community to help launch their site. Nails contacted active users on the image-sharing platform – with a focus on popular Pinterest influencers within the nail/salon community – and “personally invited” them to start a Nail Art Gallery account to show their images and pin designs from the Nails board. They also created “brand-specific” Pinterest boards, and invited companies with active communities to post on these boards.

 Nail Art Gallery on Pinterest

To promote their Pinterest presence across social platforms, the Nails home page features a feed that displays popular Pinterest posts, and the brand sends a tweet everytime an image receives five ‘likes,’ according to BtoB.

Measuring ROI

The results of the campaign were clear and measurable:

  • page views jumped from 1.5 million in January 2012 to 4.6 million by October
  • followers on Pinterest grew from zero to 13,182; pins reached 7,466
  • referrals from Pinterest totaled about 17,000
  • total referral traffic from all social sites more than doubled (reaching 30,133)

According to Broyles, “Pinterest has become the No. 2 social referring site for us, and the number of new backlinks coming to us is now in the tens of thousands,” he said.  So from zero presence on the site, Pinterest became a huge source of referrals and backlinks for the Nail Art Gallery.

Exposure and increased traffic from Pinterest also trickled over to the company’s Facebook page: the number of followers grew from 76,623 to 109,908 (and is now over 114,000).

Finally, monthly advertising revenue on Nail Art Gallery increased 7X, growing from $1,000 to $7,000.

Pinterest is clearly a perfect fit for the brand, which appeals largely to females (80% of Pinterest’s user base) and is focused on visual art.  And the brand went about creating a presence on the site in the most effective way – by personally reaching out to influencers and companies already active on Pinterest.

What results (if any) has your brand seen from establishing a presence on Pinterest?

Tourism Marketing: How a Facebook Game Lured Fans to Cape Town

Cape Town image_Cape Town TourismCape Town Tourism placed a clever spin on the Facebook game – and contest – with the competition, launched back in September 2012.  The campaign invited people to ‘send their Facebook profile on holiday‘ at Cape Town, and thousands chose to play by using an innovative Facebook app, cited by Cape Town Tourism as a “world’s first.”

The competition was open through December 31st, 2012, and winners were revealed on January 25, 2013.  Potential travelers had serious motivation to participate, with prizes including:

  • first prize — an all-expenses-paid trip to Cape Town
  • second prize — a week long holiday for a domestic traveller
  • third prize — long haul flights on Virgin Atlantic Airways

Throughout the course of the campaign, the Facebook game was played by 8,212 people. Participants hailed from South Africa, the UK, USA, India and Germany (in order by number of participants).

Back in early October, the  I ♥ Cape Town Facebook page had just over 257,000 likes.  Now, the page boasts over 275,000 likes – an increase of nearly 20,000 in just 4 months.

Cape Town Tourism gained valuable exposure, built up buzz around the brand, and can now incorporate all players of the Facebook game into their visitor database, sending regular updates about Cape Town deals and notifying them of future campaigns.

While the competition is closed, the game is still open for any potential travelers who still want to send their Facebook profile on holiday in Cape Town.

The campaign demonstrated “the incredible power of sharing on social media,” said Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism.  She sees gaming as a “creative playspace for a brand” and notes that many major tourism destinations are now incorporating gamification into their marketing strategy.  The move into this space was very deliberate: du Toit-Helmbold adds, “We researched this field extensively before embarking on our campaign and we have learnt a lot in the process.”

Has your brand used a social media contest – or ventured into gaming – to engage potential customers?

How Intuit Combined A Social Contest and Mobile Training to Expand Reach

Intuit case study: social media contest, mobile sitesThe Intuit marketing team recently proved the power of social media in a campaign that combined mobile training and a social contest.   Intuit – a global provider of financial software – is active on social media, and began this campaign looking to grow its Facebook audience and to improve the brand’s online reputation. Learn how Intuit’s efforts led to consumers being twice as likely to recommend the brand’s software, and to a 22% increase in Facebook likes.

The Goal

Intuit wanted to build the brand’s reputation and audience through training and engagement, and to increase followers and reach on Facebook.

Understanding Your Audience

According to Adrian Parker, Head of Social, Mobile, and Emerging Media, Intuit APD, the brand’s research revealed that “the number-one reason customers use social media is to grow their practice, and attract and identify new clients and new opportunities.”

In addition, through “trial and error testing,” Intuit’s team discovered that customers are more likely to respond to images and video than to text, and that they enjoy sharing their own experiences – and those of their colleagues.

This data helped inform the type of contest that would best suit the brand: on November 9, Intuit’s “Innovators” campaign was launched, focusing on two main elements — a Facebook contest and mobile sites.

Innovators Contest

The contest invited followers to “share creative ways they found to engage clients through social media.” A Facebook tab was the focal point of the contest, featuring a video that played automatically where Parker introduced and explained the contest.  Viewers then saw two large call-to-action buttons: “enter now” and “explore entries,” as well as instructions for entering the contest, updates from Intuit feeds around the world, and ads for Intuit products.

Participants could send entries via text, photo or video, and three winners were picked every week.  Winners were featured as Intuit Innovators on the brand’s Facebook page, and received different prizes — from a $50 gift card to an iPad (Marketing Sherpa). A countdown widget on the Facebook tab displayed the time remaining before the next set of winners would be announced.

The user-generated contest was judged by three major criteria, and clearly stuck to the brand’s messaging around innovation:

  • Impact – the potential or actual results of the idea
  • Creativity – in relation to the idea and its presentation
  • Innovation – points for unique and inventive ideas

Training Offered Via Mobile Sites 

Intuit took three months to create mobile content from scratch, hoping to gain credibility among accountants and get them to share their expertise with the product.  A mobile-friendly microsite featured videos with customer testimonials and software training, as well as social plugins to show live chatter about the brand on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

A QuickBooks training and certification program – available on Apple smartphones and tablets – included training courses and exams for certification and social sharing buttons. Parker told Marketing Sherpa that by creating their own mobile content, Intuit ensured its compatibility with social sharing and plugins.  Users were also surveyed before and after using the mobile sites to gain valuable feedback.

Promoting the Campaign 

Intuit Innovators ContestIntuit’s team invested in a social content management system to help maintain a strategy on multiple platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Social media promotion efforts included: updates about the contest and mobile sites across multiple social platforms (using #IntuitInnovators where possible), customized social profiles across platforms to “provide a consistent look and feel,” and paid ads on Facebook.

The team reached out to influential accountants on social media, hoping they would take part in the contest and mention it to their social followers.  Intuit also encouraged its over 8,000 employees to promote the campaign in articles and social media updates.

Measuring Success

Just one week after the contest began, the results were clear:

  • 5x more reach on Facebook
  • 22% increase in Facebook ‘likes’
  • over 850 ‘likes’ for one contest post – a team record

Results from the survey following the mobile training also revealed success in terms of brand credibility: customers were 4.5x more confident using the software after the training, and were twice as likely to recommend the software.

Intuit’s efforts show that taking the time to understand your audience – who they are, what they’re looking for – and tailoring your brand’s campaign to their preferences can bring immediate results. Parker told Marketing Sherpa that the increase in Facebook reach alone “surpassed our expectations.”

Social Media Fuels Krispy Kreme Launch in India

Social media was a driving force behind Krispy Kreme’s launch in India this past Saturday.  The doughnut chain worked to drive up likes on Facebook, handing out free boxes of doughnuts at malls and schools and announcing special deals on the social platform.

Krispy Kreme India Facebook specialThe Krispy Kreme India Facebook page grew from 3,000 to over 21,000 likes from December through the store opening on January 19th.  In addition to frequent postings, the brand used special deals to lure customers in, offering a free one-month supply of doughnuts for the 4th-100th customers.  The Facebook page also posted a coupon offering an additional free dozen for the 100th-200th customers to buy a dozen doughnuts on opening day.

According to Nilofer D’Souza at Forbes India, the brand overcame low awareness through doughnut giveaways at malls, and new Facebook followers began to watch where the brand would appear next, “driving across the city for their free doughnuts” and spreading the word among friends.

Krispy Kreme also targeted a younger audience, giving away free doughnuts at popular schools in Bangalore – and hoping kids would pass their excitement about the product to parents.  Forbes reported that one 12-year-old boy convinced his parents to get to the store opening at 5am, in hopes of winning a year’s free supply of doughnuts.

Krispy Kreme India Facebook pageThe results of all this buzz, generated through giveaways and social media?   In addition to the impressive rise in Facebook likes, excitement led many customers to sleep outside the store before opening day, or to wait in line for an hour or more. Forbes reported that people were lining up outside the store at 8pm in anticipation of the doors opening for the first time the following morning.

Now – will Krispy Kreme’s Facebook savvy keep customers coming in, after the initial buzz dies down and the freebies are over?

Financial Services: How Securian’s Content-Centric Social Media Strategy Paid Off

A recent campaign by Securian Financial Group illustrates how social media can be a great tool for the financial services industry.  The brand chose a relevant topic, engaged with the public, and used social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube – to reach out to potential customers.

Choose Relevant Content 

Securian social media campaignSecurian picked a topic – ‘Long-term goals need a long-term partner’ – that accurately represented the brand and worked with their compliance department.  To help make this topic relevant to potential customers, the brand sought out public opinion. “We hired a small crew, walked to a local park and conducted spontaneous interviews,” says Angela Schema, manager, Communications.

These interviews turned into a series of four videos supporting the brand’s chosen topic: financial security for the long run.  The videos include a variety of people (and some of their pets) “sharing their views on personal goals, financial strategies, debt, retirement savings and more.”

Set Goals

Securian set clear campaign objectives:

  • Increase Facebook “Likes” by 25%
  • Increase Twitter followers by 15%
  • Build brand recognition for Securian
  • Promote Securian’s commitment to helping people reach their long-term financial goals

Make It Social

Starting in November, Securian posted one video per week to the brand’s YouTube channel.  These videos were then promoted through Securian’s presence on Facebook and Twitter.

Measure Results

Securian closely monitored the number of followers, subscribers, likes and views on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.  According to data provided by the company, campaign goals were exceeded:

  • Facebook likes rose 27% to 571 (now at 579)
  • Twitter followers increased by 19% to 191 (now at 201)
  • YouTube channel earned 4,133 views

According to Schema, the experiment “was a success on several levels” — even though the numbers are not large, the campaign produced a definite increase in followers.  “Our results show that our long-term value proposition is resonating and we can build a social media community around our brand,” says Schema.


Top Social Media Case Studies of 2012

What were the most popular social media case studies in 2012?  Based on traffic, here are the top case studies we published in the last year, from social media fails to innovative, multi-platform campaigns:

  1. Toyota Under Fire for SuperBowl PromotionToyota Under Fire For #CamryEffect Twitter Spam Superbowl Promotion (Feb 6): Twitter users that were tweeting about the SuperBowl received unsolicited @ reply messages from Toyota inviting them to enter a contest for a 2012 Camry. User backlash was aimed at both Toyota and Twitter, which had verified multiple accounts used in the campaign (via LocalResponse technology). Both Toyota and Twitter learned an important lesson about social media campaigns that involve automated messaging, and LocalResponse no longer runs this type of campaign.
  2. Pinterest Tab on Facebook: Lowe’s Sees 32% Increase in Followers (Mar 19):  As Pinterest began to see serious growth, Lowe’s used its existing presence on Facebook to help drive traffic and fans to the newer, smaller social networking site.  Facebook fans were able to interact with Lowe’s on Pinterest without ever leaving Facebook’s platform; the results included a 32% increase in Pinterest followers for the brand, and follower gains of 60% for certain featured boards.  Note: this campaign can’t be replicated, since Facebook switched over to Timeline and eliminated Tabs a few months later.
  3. How Nike Stole Social Media GoldHow Nike Stole Social Media Gold From Olympic Sponsor Adidas (Aug 21): 2012 was dubbed the “Social Olympics” and both Nike and official sponsor Adidas planned extensive social media campaigns around the Games. While Adidas had presence on all official signage, Nike stole the show by outfitting hundreds of individual athletes, and using relevant messaging through commercials and the #findyourgreatness Twitter hashtag.
  4. Lessons From the #McDStories Promoted Trend Controversy (Jan 24): An interview with Rick Wion, McDonald’s Director of Social Media, looks at whether the #McDStories hashtag really spiraled out of control with negative backlash.  While the media was hyping the campaign as a “#McFail,” in reality only 2% of tweets about the brand that day were negative.  Still, Wion offers some great lessons for engaging on social media – even when things “don’t go as intended.”
  5. Burberry social media campaignSocial Media Marketing: Burberry Launches New Campaign on 10 Social Platforms (July 11): Luxury brand and “digital darling” Burberry launched its Autumn/Winter 2012 campaign on 6 social platforms in the US and 4 in China. The brand used specific platforms to showcase different parts of the collection – including shoppable video, behind-the-scenes photography, short films, and exclusive music.

What did you think were the most interesting case studies of 2012?

Don’t forget to check our weekly #RLTM scoreboard for the latest stats, case studies, and realtime tools going ahead into 2013 — and sign up for our newsletter to stay on top of new realtime campaigns all year long.

Facebook And Walmart Team Up for Black Friday Mobile-Ad Blitz

On Black Friday, Facebook and Walmart launched the social network’s largest mobile advertising campaign ever.  Walmart had pre-purchased the ads, “edging out” other retailers for exposure at the start of the holiday season, according to The Wall Street Journal.  Was the campaign successful, and will Facebook partner with other brands in this way? 

Walmart's Facebook page

Walmart’s “mobile-ad blitz” ran for 72 hours.  It consisted of 50 million ads which showed up in the Facebook mobile news feeds of tens millions of people.  That’s a lot of exposure – though Walmart didn’t reveal the cost of purchasing this ad space.

The results, according to The Wall Street Journal, were “mixed.” The campaign drew over 100,000 comments, but Walmart’s Facebook page was also filled with comments complaining about unwanted ads. Wal-Mart’s marketing chief Stephen Quinn told the Journal that he “never saw this level of engagement” with a digital campaign – but didn’t reveal how much of the sentiment was positive vs. negative.

Facebook and Walmart started working closely together on the campaign back in October, and a Facebook team was in place for the weekend after Thanksgiving – answering questions, delivering reports and compiling statistics on the success of the mobile ads.

The campaign shows Facebook’s willingness to work directly with big advertisers, in some cases “using those brands as labs to test new ad products.” The Journal particularly noted Facebook’s desire to strengthen its mobile advertising revenue, and said the social networking giant may make similar campaign options available to other companies.

The 50 million ads purchased for this campaign were only a portion of the two billion ads that Walmart bought on Facebook this holiday season.  The retail giant also made adjustments – in the moment – using Facebook to promote certain items.  For instance, when the company saw that a pair of speakers weren’t selling well on Black Friday, it posted them on the Walmart Facebook page as a “special buy.”  The result? The speakers sold out throughout the U.S.

Facebook Partners With Walmart for Exclusive Mobile Ad CampaignWalmart saw some immediate gains from holiday efforts on Facebook, with 164,000 new Facebook fans over Thanksgiving weekend (bringing the total number of fans to over 26 million) and more than one million daily comments, mentions and interactions on its Facebook page.  But again, not all comments were positive; many mentioned low employee wages and poor working conditions, or were complaints about unwanted ads.  It’s also unclear how many of these likes and interactions were a result of the mobile ad campaign specifically, or a result of wider holiday advertising efforts.

Brad Tuttle at TIME writes, “The question that still remains, though, is to what extent, if at all, the tailored-ad blitz on Facebook truly worked for Walmart.” While it may be difficult to determine the success of the mobile campaign, it’s interesting to note that Walmart’s Stephen Quinn sees Facebook not only as a marketing tool, but also “at the core…of customer service.”

What do you think – can Facebook make this kind of tailored advertising opportunity worthwhile for advertisers? Will this experiment “spur on other retailers to use social media in new and bigger ways?”

Facebook Contest: Truvia Asks Fans To Drive Business Development

Truvia Social Media Campaign, ContestTruvia – a sugar alternative – is seeing solid results from a social media campaign asking fans to help direct the company’s expansion efforts.  The campaign, entitled “Turning the Town Truvia,” asks the brand’s Facebook fans where they’d like to see Truvia, reports ClickZ.  The incentive? Participating fans are entered for chance to win $5,000 for each nomination.

The campaign – which began October 1st and will continue through December 23rd – has already delivered in terms of Facebook engagement and new markets:

  • Facebook fans grew by 25%, to just under 105,000
  • the company gained 35,000 leads
  • consumer nominations were received in five geo-targeted cities: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, New York and Seattle
  • Truvia products have already been adopted by these locations as a result of the campaign: Hilton Atlanta, Hilton Boston Logan Airport, Biaggi’s in Chicago and the Fireman Hospitality Group (which includes Bond 45, Café Fiorello, Redeye Grill, Brooklyn Diner and Trattoria Dell’Arte)

In addition to the chance to win $5,000 for each nomination, participants also receive coupons for $1 off Truvia products.

The company is putting customer feedback to work: once a particular location receives multiple nominations, Truvia assembles a ‘welcome kit, ‘ which includes a welcome letter to the Turning the Town Truvia program, a Truvia mug, an 80-count box of Truvia natural sweetener and a package of the Truvia Behind the Bar product.

In addition to the contest on Facebook, the campaign is being promoted via print, broadcast, online and social media spots in coordination with CBS Network.

The simplicity of the concept is great: give fans an incentive to engage, and give eateries proof that consumers want to see Truvia in their locations.  Mark Brooks, global consumer products director for Truvia, told ClickZ that “the goal is to incentivize potential customers to understand how Truvia fits their own brands and why they should bring in the product.”

How To Organize A Brand Hackathon (And Why) – Interview With Betabrand’s Chris Lindland

Betabrand invited customers to hack its brandWe recently ran a post covering the Facebook-powered sock insurance program from Betabrand, maker of geek chic such as the Executive Pinstripe Hoodie and the Nauseating Holiday Pants.

This led to a series of email exchanges with Betabrand founder and CEO Chris Lindland, who pointed me to a number of other campaigns the brand has done–some of which were created at a series of hackathons that Betabrand hosted this year.

Asking your customers and fans to hack your brand is about as social as a social business can get. You don’t own your brand: your customers do. And hosting your own brand hackathon is a brilliant way to find out just how far your brand can go if you let them have the controls.

If you have customers and fans, why wouldn’t you give them the keys to the playground and see what they come up with?  “I think the reason people don’t do brand hackathons is brand managers jealously guard their tag lines, logos, and look,” Lindland told me.

If this is you, you’re not ready for a brand hackathon. Read on to find out what you’re missing.

What’s the ROI of a Bigfoot Sighting?

Betabrand’s first exposure to hackathons came earlier this year, when a group of Las Vegas-based developers invited Lindland to host a hackathon. He agreed after they promised to build an app for him in exchange.

Sightings was the first app developed for Betabrand at a hackathon in Las Vegas

The result was Sightings by Betabrand, an iTunes app that lets you add Jesus, the Virgin Mary, or Bigfoot into any iPhone photo you take — the perfect companion to help launch the brand’s new Sasquatch sweater, knitted from “100% pure Bigfoot fur.” More than 6,000 fans have downloaded the app so far, sharing Sightings with family, friends. Here’s a best of collection on the brand’s Facebook page.

I did ask Lindland the obvious question:  Is there any way to tie the app downloads directly back to sweater sales?  Lindland’s answer: No – “the goal was to submit an app in 24 hours. With more time, we could have turned it into the holy grail of Jesus, Mary, and Bigfoot commerce.”

How to Host a Brand Hackathon

Today is awesome. #betabrand #hackathon  on TwitpicThe positive experience with the Las Vegas hackathon is what inspired the Betabrand team the idea of hosting its own hackathon, which took place in San Francisco in late September of this year.

The company used its customer newsletter and social media to promote the event. “Compensation: pants.”

A total of 20 hackers showed up. The mission? “To hack on our brand — to develop new ways to experience Betabrand,” according to Lindland.  The key, he says, is to “focus on very small ideas.  Hackathon’s are usually 24-48 hrs long and it’s hard to get folks to work on something that’s 80% of the way there afterwards.” It’s also a good idea to communicate as much as possible in advance of the event to “bat around, or bat down some ideas that won’t work beforehand.” was the winning app developed at Betabrand's brand hack eventThe best Betabrand brand hack from the event? (Totally safe for work – but you won’t stop laughing for a long while, trust me). Another group came up with an ad campaign that featured missing sock ads that they posted around town at foot level.

Your Brand is a Platform

“Betabrand is perfect because we have such an open, experimental approach to branding,” says Lindland.

From its Model Citizen photo campaign to its Disco Open Source Project to its ThinkTank Community Idea Factory, Betabrand has built its brand around customer engagement. Its fans are its biggest marketing asset, and the company uses its brand as a platform on which its customers can express themselves.

If your brand culture is not quite as open as Betabrand’s, you can still invite customers to participate in a hackathon event–and start the process of listening, learning and creating a more open culture. Which any brand on the social web needs to be.

And here’s another tip from Lindland:  “You should simply hand over old or under-performing product lines and see what people can do.” What do you have to lose?

Have you participated in hackathons? Would you sign up for a brand hackathon such as this one? And would you host a hackathon for your brand?

Michael Kors #MKTimeless Contest Leads To 50% Growth in Instagram Followers

Michael Kors Instagram ContestDesigner fashion label Michael Kors launched a two-week contest on Instagram back in August, asking users to share pictures of their favorite Michael Kors watch with the hashtag #MKTimeless.  The contest created a huge upswing in the brand’s Instagram follower numbers, generated thousands of user photos, and led to increased engagement on Facebook.

L2 Think Tank reports that “Instagram, along with Pinterest, is capturing the bulk of the fashion industry growth on social media.”  Given Instagram’s high female user base (~70%), the platform is being heavily targeted by fashion brands.

Fans were encouraged to share a pic of their favorite brand watch for the chance to win a New York Limited Edition Runway Watch.  The contest ran from August 15th to August 27th, with some impressive results:

  • 50% growth in followers of the brand’s Instagram account
  • over 6,800 user-generated photos submitted with hashtag #MKTimeless
  • 3,000 entries submitted within the first 24 hours of the contest
  • a brand Facebook post with the contest rules received 19,000 ‘likes’

Users were encouraged to share their photos on both Instagram and Twitter with #MKTimeless, creating even more buzz for the brand and the contest.

Apparently the campaign was considered successful: Michael Kors launched another giveaway in September (this time for a Paris limited edition watch), asking users to post photos of their watch style – again using #MKTimeless – to Instagram or Twitter.

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