New Frontiers: Case Studies in Social Media Marketing
Eight examples of how publishers are creating new outlets for clients.
It’s inevitable that the pursuit of “integrated” advertising now includes a heavy dose of social media.
It’s not something to be taken lightly. Publishers walk the ad/edit line in print and on websites but in social media, the user is also an owner. With 4 million fans, National Geographic is the third-largest media brand on Facebook but no longer gives advertising access to the wall, because there are audience ramifications with every move, according to vice president of social media Robert Michael Murray. “Just putting a Facebook ‘like’ button on a web page is huge—it systematically categorizes pages for future search. How do you take people along that progression? As publishers we can’t just approach social media like other companies such as Zappos, where half the staff is on social media offering customer service.”
Promotions are getting more sophisticated, from Wenner creating slideshows on Facebook for Sierra Mist to ESSENCE selling the wallpaper on its Twitter feed to Buick to magazines such as Food + Wine and Prevention hosting hugely successful live video and Facebook chats (but be careful with the platform—during a Food + Wine chat, one celebrity chef was so diligent in responding to all questions that Facebook flagged her as a spammer and locked her account in the middle of the chat).
Ultimately, publishers need to be worried about brands cutting the publisher out of social media efforts or looking to plug publisher content into their own efforts without leveraging the publisher’s platforms. But for now, advertisers can’t create the experiences like publishers can, and here Folio: offers a look at eight standout efforts from the past year.
CAMPAIGN: Redbook National Happy Hour
Redbook combined social media, print and live events for its National Happy Hour program, in which the magazine and (marketing company House Party) put on 1,000 parties in reader homes with attendance of nearly 15,000.
More than 34,000 people applied to host a house party. The event was timed to coincide with Redbook’s July issue, which included articles on how to host the parties, talking points for the events and surveys for attendees. A web landing page served as a screener for potential hosts, and a way for hosts and attendees to message back and forth. It also included 11 party-related blogs from Redbook (as well as 944 partygoer blogs). Two days prior to the parties, executive editor Meredith Rollins appeared on The Today Show. “There is not a content distribution element that we didn’t activate,” says vice president and publisher Mary Morgan.
The effort included 35-pound party packs sent to each host with products from sponsors L’Oreal, Seattle’s Best Coffee and Snyder’s of Hanover (as well as free one-year subscription cards to Redbook). Sponsors were asked for Redbook commitments across the board.
“We could look at the social media and see these consumer talking, it was almost like having a live conversation with them,” says Morgan. “It’s a very meaningful connection that was hard to do before social media.”
A few days after the Happy Hour events, Redbook hosted a Twitter party for all applicants hosted by cover model Brooke Burke. The effort generated over 4 million impressions and reached more than 457,000 unique “conversation partners,” while consumers engaged with Redbook for over 77,000 hours. “We’re talking with House Party now about putting in a purchase tracker for next year,” says Morgan. “This was one of the most meaningful programs we ever fielded.”
PUBLISHER: Moose River Media
CAMPAIGN: Fluid Film
In the online environment, where users are often oversaturated with promotions and advertisements, Sean Adams, VP of online communities with b-to-b publisher Moose River Media, says engaging outside of the initial promotion is key to an advertiser’s success. Adams saw sponsor Eureka Chemical Company’s Fluid Film (a product similar to WD40) embrace and expand on this particularly well over the past four years.
“Smaller companies don’t have a huge budget, but they’re realizing they can jump into the conversation,” says Adams. “Those companies are the ones that are going to succeed and leave a bigger footprint.”
Dan Williams, Fluid Film’s technical sales manager, started by introducing himself in Moose River Media’s online community forums like Lawnsite.com. Moose River and Fluid Film worked together to create videos to demonstrate of Fluid Film’s uses, and then began to encourage forum users to do the same. Williams kept close track of community members who showed interest in Fluid Film, sending along free cans (and sometimes entire boxes of the product) to users.
Williams spent the majority of his efforts engaging in group discussions, “He became a member of the community: he would participate in discussions completely unrelated to his product; he was first looked at as a member, then as a member who happens to be a supplier,” says Adams. “It progressed into him being someone who embraced our communities and all the different things that go with it.”
Williams created brand evangelists out of community members and people are now recommending the product on the forums without provocation, says Adams. The company picked up its largest distributor in 2010 through the Moose River forums, in a deal valued at $229,000.
“We’ve strengthened our bond with existing dealers and distributors, doing cross advertising and helping to push awareness of our product through their outlets,” says Williams.
CAMPAIGN: Sponsored Tweets
Social media campaigns don’t have to be complicated or require extensive resources. The Advertising Specialty Institute is offering sponsor exposure as well as keeping its social media output lively by selling sponsorships around its “Tweet Tracker,” which aggregates all ASI editor Tweets and Facebook posts to a central location at website ASI Central.
The Tweet Tracker is currently sponsored by ProTowels. “This is sold as sponsorship pricing, there are no metrics associated with it,” says publisher and senior vice president Rich Fairfield. “It’s a monthly fixed cost that is independent of traffic.”
ASI’s Facebook page generates 200,000 monthly page views and the company has followers “in the thousands” on Facebook and Twitter.
ASI is planning to open up the Tweet Tracker to also include original tweets and Facebook posts from other sponsors. “We will charge additional fees for adding sponsor tweets and Facebook posts, which can also serve to keep the tracker content rich,” says Fairfield. “Sponsors can’t be too self-serving, they have to offer something real to members so it looks like it belongs there.”
CAMPAIGN: The Rut Reporters
As publishers look for the next big thing to attract readers to their social media sites, Field & Stream’s Rut Reporters’ campaign proves specialization just may be the key.
Launched last year on Facebook, The Rut Reporters has been a staple for the print issue of Field & Stream for several years. Developed by the magazine to help guide hunters follow the “rut” (deer movement during hunting season, which traditionally peaks in November), editors would publish their estimates for the best days of the rut in the October issue. After an encouraging flood of triumphant anecdotes and reader pictures of prize game, Field & Stream decided to expand the effort to the social sphere.
In order to participate, users must first “like” the Field & Stream Facebook page. After becoming a fan, users can fill out a Rut Reporter form, detailing “deer movement, activity in the field and weather patterns,” says Liz Burnham, associate publisher, marketing & online services for Field & Stream, Outdoor Life and SHOT Business. A Flash-based program then analyzes the data, flowing the results into a heat map.
“The more people participate, the better the info is. Wherever the activity is the highest, the map shows the region as the most red, the ‘hottest’,” says Burnham.
In addition to the interactive tracking map, last year six Rut Reporters reported live from the field, posting tips and pictures on the Rut Reporters blog.
The initial launch (which ran from October 1, 2010 to January 18, 2011) attracted a range of different sponsors, including Leatherman, Primos Hunting, Honda and Eagle Creek travel gear. Sponsors paid a small fee, an extension of their existing ad programs with Field & Stream. They also donated products that were given away as weekly prizes through Facebook.
This year’s Rut Reporter campaign, launching September 1, is sponsored by outdoor gear retailer Cabela’s. The exclusive sponsorship will run through the end of 2012.
As for the campaign’s success, Burnham says the program was designed as an outreach to track the rut, but was also a way to increase Field & Stream’s fan base. Before Rut Reporters hit Facebook, F & S had 4,000 “likes”; fan “likes” increased to 20,000 during the campaign.
CAMPAIGN: Dove “Deodorant Correspondents”
To drive awareness among young women for Dove’s new Revive Body Mist, Hearst Integrated Media teamed up with Unilever’s PR and media agencies on a multi-platform effort targeting readers of Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire and Seventeen.
The campaign centered on a national contest featuring three real girls who would chronicle their “fresh perspectives” as Dove correspondents. The magazines introduced the contest in their April 2010 issues, driving readers to a custom-landing page (DoveDeodorantCorrespondnets.com) that served as the hub for all social media activity around the campaign, including correspondent blogs and Twitter, YouTube and Flickr content. All correspondent conversations ended with a Dove trending topic to help identify threads and tweets associated with the campaign. The contest would ask entrants one question about the correspondent’s activities that week.
The campaign also included a blogger event with beauty editors from the respective magazines in a campus promotion. The effort drove 85,049 page views, 45,649 uniques visitors and 12,127 total sweeps entries.
CAMPAIGN: Selling Twitter Wallpaper
For its 40th anniversary in 2010, ESSENCE offered a sponsor package with Buick that included the automotive brand as title sponsor of a luncheon, as well as a social media package with sponsor tweets, and Facebook and Twitter photo postings tagged as “Buick Presents…” It also allowed Buick to put a custom skin on the ESSENCE Twitter page the day of the event.
ESSENCE replicated the skin for Ford as part of a promotion around the ESSENCE Music Festival. “We had a huge promotion with Ford where they sponsored the Twitter feed—including five locations in New Orleans where we had Twitter boards pulling in #emf2011 that also had Ford branding on the skin,” says ESSENCE.com general manager Lesley Pinckney. “People were standing outside, watching the real time conversation about what’s going on at the music festival.”
The magazine last month wrapped a promotion for Disney in which fans could upload photo albums to the ESSENCE Facebook page for a chance to win an all expenses paid trip to Disney.
“We do a lot of social media and we have close to 140,000 fans on Facebook,” says Pinckney. “We try to do things that don’t offend our audience—the Facebook wall and Twitter streams are sacred and shouldn’t be infiltrated with advertiser messages unless it has an end-user benefit, or is part of way the event is branded—say, ‘The ESSENCE Music Festival brought to you by Coca Cola.’”
Social media is considered a branding opportunity. “We will report the amount of Twitter activity taking place and with something like the Ford campaign we’ll look at what foot traffic was in front of the screens,” says Pinckney. “It’s more of a rebranding opportunity. The metrics are still a little loose. It’s more of a brand glitter moment than it is performance-based media.”
ESSENCE tries to limit promotional messages to one per day on its social media channels. “We’ve had requests before from brands to ask our users to ‘friend’ their brands on our wall but we don’t want to be in the business of doing that,” says Pinckney. “If a brand is doing an event with us, we will say, ‘Check out pictures from say, the ‘Pepsi Generation Next Party.’ If it makes sense, we’ll be flexible and accommodating but we’re not going to use our Facebook wall to drive people to friend other brands.”
PUBLISHER: Conde Nast
CAMPAIGN: Social Sidekick
In a new campaign that will serve both publisher and advertiser interests (more so than usual), Conde Nast brings its most socially shared editorial content together from its female-targeted titles (including W, Style.com, Glamour, Self, Teen Vogue and Lucky) with a new web tool dubbed the Social Sidekick.
Launched in late August, Social Sidekick is an in-house technology that aggregates Conde’s most popular content (according to shares, likes and reposts through Facebook and Twitter) into one window. This window, exclusively sponsored by Gucci through October, pairs Conde’s editorial with Gucci-related content below the featured articles. Conde Nast’s CMO Lou Cona says, “For us, it’s a huge user benefit as it’s a flexible ad platform, but it gives us an opportunity to cross-brand our content as well.”
Sponsors can update content in real-time in order to coincide with the trending topics in Conde’s editorial; as well as drive traffic through the Sidekick to their own social media presence, website and/or e-commerce offerings. Katie Bantz, who developed the concept of the Sidekick with Kaitlin Blankemeier, says the tool is transparent.
Social Sidekick advertisers are able to view user behavior data not usually accessible to other marketing partners, according to Cona.
While Gucci has the right to renew this sponsorship come November, says Cona, “We have a very sizable list of people who would like to join in.”
PUBLISHER: UBM TechWeb
CAMPAIGN: Internet Evolution
Many publishers are utilizing already established social platforms like Facebook and Twitter to build a social media buzz for their advertising clients. Others, like b-to-b media company UBM, are choosing to create proprietary platforms to meet client needs. UBM has developed a model it calls “Community in a Box” (CIAB), “a set of technology and best practices designed to foster and create high qualified, highly engaged online communities in the b-to-b space,” says Steve Saunders, managing director of DeusM, a UBM-owned marketing-as-a-service company.
Now used across nine communities, the CIAB model was polished through Internet Evolution, an online community exclusively sponsored by IBM. Launched four years ago, Internet Evolution now boasts 380 content contributors, half a million pages views and 200,000 unique visitors a month. Currently, there are 40,000 registered users in the Internet-focused community.
Internet Evolution is solely sponsored by IBM, “Their logo is on top of a site which surfaces eight or 10 articles a day. They are positioned as underwriters with all of this independent and authoritative information,” says Saunders.
Exclusivity maintains the quality of conversation within Internet Evolution, as registrants are reviewed through a rigorous application process. “Anyone who registers for the site volunteers information, which goes into a database. Before they can be accepted to the site, it gets screened by the community editors on the site: they look for company size, job titles, organization and level of responsibility,” says Saunders.
Qualified members are divided into “clans” based on job responsibility, industry or technological specialization, in order to organize and prioritize discussion. Saunders sees these clans as largely successful, with the C-level executive clan including 12,000 people.
Of UBM’s custom approach to social media, Saunders says, “We’re not trying to piggy back third party networks; we build proprietary communities for third party networks. We build a marketing platform; then we use third party social networks to amplify the content on our platform to a wider audience, and bring them back to the site.”