What makes for a head-turning social media presence? What drives massive engagement and attracts thousands of new followers and brand advocates? As always, it depends; here are some of the social media campaign secrets that made a difference for Samsung, Oreo, and Intel — three universally known but diverse brands, each with a specific social media objective and a unique way of achieving it.
Brand: Samsung Camera (Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.)
Product: Samsung Digital Smart Cameras
In a sector dominated by established brands, including Panasonic, Sony, Canon, Nikon, and other household names, Samsung Camera needed a hard-hitting approach to support its 2013 market entry for a range of wireless-enabled digital smart cameras. Widely known for its connected consumer-electronic devices, Samsung decided to play on its acknowledged strengths while demonstrating the capabilities of cameras designed for the next generation of photography enthusiasts.
The cameras themselves made ideal vehicles for cutting-edge social media campaigns based predominantly around Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter. Aiming at what Reuters terms “pro-sumers” — high-end amateur or semi-professional photographers prepared to pay for premium options — the company engaged directly and on multiple levels with followers on Facebook and Flickr.
Samsung’s smart cameras all feature wireless connectivity, making it easy to upload photos and videos directly to social media platforms. Reaching out to end-users, Samsung coordinated regular, themed Facebook contests, also promoted on Twitter, that required entrants to upload pictures taken using Samsung smart hardware. Attractive prizes — often pre-launch samples of new smart cameras — combined with public voting to select winners ensured maximum engagement.
The company connected directly with high-profile photographic bloggers and influencers, equipping them with the latest smart-technology cameras in return for a high-visibility feed of images and reviews. Promoted smart-camera users feature prominently in Samsung’s SMART CAMERA Flickr albums, with cross-feeds to Facebook and Twitter. The company enjoyed substantial positive feedback that played out directly to the thousands of followers already engaged with the chosen individuals.
In the U.K., Samsung recruited world-famous photographer David Bailey to spearhead its “We Are David Bailey” campaign, promoting the NX1000 smart camera. The company tracked down more than 150 amateur photographers of the same name, equipped each of them with a new NX1000, and promoted their work heavily on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The campaign also was featured on national TV.
By any standards, Samsung’s social media campaigns have been highly successful. From a start-point of close to zero, Research and Markets ranked the company as one of five dominant “key vendors” in its recent market-research report, North America Digital Camera Market 2014-2018. Samsung reportedly achieved a market share just below 10 percent within six months of commencing its social media drive.
At an operational level, Samsung saw a substantial increase in its Facebook and Twitter followers; more importantly, engagement on each of its chosen social media platforms skyrocketed, with followers not only participating in the regular contests but promoting them widely among their own social circles.
Neither were industry peers left unimpressed. In PR Daily’s 2013 Social Media Awards, Samsung Electronics received an honorable mention for Best Use of Social Media for Brand Awareness. In a further hat-tip from the industry, the “We Are David Bailey” campaign won Best Digitally Led Campaign and was named overall winner at the 2014 Marketing Agencies Association’s Best Awards in London.
The value of playing to existing strengths shines through Samsung’s campaigns. Its acknowledged status as a leading manufacturer of connected devices endorsed and enhanced the outcome of its related social media campaigns.
It’s possible to attempt too much. Although each Facebook contest saw a surge in engagement with the brand, some disappeared without a trace too quickly after closing, leaving participants feeling short-changed. Even a large company should limit the scope of its planned campaigns.
Brand: Oreo (Mondelēz International Inc.)
Product: Oreo Creme-Filled Sandwich Cookies
Like any snack food, Oreo faces a continuous battle to remain the product of choice. The volatile nature of the fast-moving-consumer-goods sector makes it prohibitively expensive to base strategy solely on traditional campaigns; Oreo operates an agile marketing strategy that keeps it firmly in the public consciousness. Keynotes include highlighting the versatility of its offering and increasing engagement with its followers, ensuring it remains top of the nation’s shopping lists.
The Oreo product has no technical or functional USPs to support its campaigns. It developed a strong social media presence over a number of years and relies heavily on a healthy dose of humor to capture the moment on Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Tumblr, and YouTube. Oreo also maintains a highly active following on Facebook, where it posts daily.
The best-known example of Oreo’s agile Twitter strategy dates from the 2013 Super Bowl, where it reacted within minutes of a power outage, tweeting “You can still dunk in the dark,” a sentiment that earned more than 15,000 retweets within an hour. Typical of the brand’s tip-of-the-tongue humor, it evinces a willingness to tweet often and with a genuinely engaging personality.
Oreo is not afraid to engage directly with other brands, earning itself plenty of retweets and mentions in so doing. Popular examples include its Twitter duels with AMC Theatres, Xbox, Taco Bell, and Kit Kat, each demonstrating a personable, humorous approach to the social media space.
Elsewhere, Oreo focuses on developing highly shareable, often user-generated content; its #WonderFilled and #OreoSnackHack campaigns, initially video-based and developed exclusively for social media, are great examples. The resulting videos, mini-clips, and images, showing what individual fans do with Oreos, can be found on YouTube, Vine, Instagram, and Tumblr — and probably further afield, given the ingenuity of Oreo’s followers.
One thing is clear: Oreo is in social media for the long term. Talking to AdWeek in 2014, Kristin Hajinlian, brand manager with the company, confirmed: “We look at our social content really as a way to connect with our fans. We’re always looking for things they are most interested in.” A 21st-century recipe for digital success?
Oreo’s social media campaigns have contributed to its continuously growing online popularity. Econsultancy reported a 49-percent year-on-year increase in “buzz” related to the brand between 2012 and 2013, an increase that shows no sign of slowing. It concluded that Oreo’s whole-hearted adoption of an agile strategy is the major factor in this level of success.
As of July 2014, Oreo had amassed more than 37 million Facebook likes and 381,000 Twitter followers; its YouTube channel had attracted more than 70 million views. Each of these followings continues to grow monthly, but what is more impressive is the massive earned-media exposure that the brand generates through its assured use of its chosen channels. According to AdAge, the Super-Bowl tweet alone drew “boatloads” of free media coverage over a period of several days.
Don’t underestimate the power of apps like Vine. They allow brands to use low-budget, easy-to-produce video that can be created and shared across multiple social media platforms. Entwining user-generated content with brand-owned media is simple but highly effective, developing closer engagement and increasing followership.
Mold your social media team in your brand likeness. Oreo benefits from the combined wit, personality, and charm of the individuals who have control of its corporate social media accounts. Finding the right balance for a brand isn’t a five-minute exercise, but one that demands an appropriate investment of time with your chosen people.
Brand: Intel (Intel Corporation)
Product: Semiconductor Computer Chips
As one of the world’s largest computer-chip manufacturers, Intel Corporation faces a common problem for B2B companies: It has no direct line of contact with consumers and business users who buy products powered by Intel devices. First-hand end-user feedback, a vital source of inspiration for future product development, is almost non-existent. Intel’s response is to use social media to bypass this roadblock, engaging directly with followers through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and its corporate intranet.
Intel’s chosen social media weapon is high-quality content, and its delivery vehicle is its staff. Intel realized that engaged end-users, particularly influential bloggers and hobbyists, rely heavily on technical resources and product information that is not widely available from resellers; consequently, it launched social media campaigns based on promoting subject-matter experts and internal brand advocates.
Internal knowledge-sharing is the basis for Intel’s strategy; its corporate intranet portal provides a framework for sharing research papers, product knowledge and technical know-how. Its success has supported the emergence of a generation of empowered employees — Intel Ambassadors — chartered with building Intel brand loyalists internally and externally.
Creating an engaging Facebook presence was a top priority for Intel in the social media arena. A content mix comprising mostly general-interest articles with a sprinkling of more technical items was a sound choice, attracting followers hungry for information and ready to engage. Regular features, including “How Computers Were Made,” a 2012 series of posts supported by a corresponding Twitter campaign, generated thousands of shares and retweets.
Ekaterina Walter, at the time Intel’s social media strategist, explained how “tech-setters,” influencers and unofficial experts in the field, formed the backbone of the company’s original follower base. For the first time, she said, “Intel was able to ask its audience what it wanted to see on our wall.”
The answer? Followers wanted to keep up to date with technical news, vindicating the company’s content strategy. In parallel, Intel began creating high-quality video content, both for Facebook and for its new YouTube channel; audience reaction was massively positive. Followers were now interacting regularly and contributing to Intel’s thinking on product features and development plans.
In 2014, Intel is acknowledged as a center of excellence for social media activity in a B2B environment, and its employee advocates are among the most trusted authorities in the sector. Together, they maintain an impressive and authoritative presence on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Intel succeeded emphatically in its primary objective: engaging with consumers and business users who buy products powered by its devices. Its deserved status as an industry exemplar testifies to the effectiveness of its social media initiatives.
The Intel Ambassador program is a major driver of business improvement, according to Sabrina Stoffregen, until recently director of Intel Ambassadors. “We believe our brand comes to life through our Intel employees,” said Stoffregen. Calculating a financial return from the program isn’t as easy, but there’s no doubt the company considers it money well-spent.
Don’t think short-term; in particular, don’t automate your content. Followers can tell the difference, and the impact on engagement is significant, according to Walter. When an update is personalized, she says, “People comment on it much more.” Complement this by asking questions that drive the reader to take action, increasing the probability of interaction.
Give your people the chance to participate. The response to the Intel Ambassador program was massively positive, with many employees achieving substantially more than had been expected of them. Provide the right tools, train people effectively and empower them to deliver the message. They rarely let you down.
Identifying the Common Differences
If that sounds like a contradiction in terms, think again. Each of these big-name brands had a unique objective, yet each took the same steps to success:
- Focus on the desired outcome
- Identify the relevant audience
- Select an appropriate content strategy
- Choose the most appropriate social media channels
- Execute professionally in all respects
It’s not that difficult, yet many brands get it horribly wrong. Don’t become a statistic — be one of tomorrow’s success stories.
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