How a 73 year old organization wins at innovation

The companies that win at innovation and successfully scale emerging technologies are the ones that experiment early and know which signs of growth to look at. The National Basketball Association might be a 73 year old organization, it is definitely this type of company.

Having worked closely with NBA at Twitter, not only were they one of the first sports league globally to fully embrace the power of real time public conversation for their audience engagement, they also understood quickly that it would grow the fandom of each team, allow players to express their personalities off the court, extend the reach of their TV broadcast as well as increase the value of sponsorship for their brand partners.

The NBA as also been an early partner of NextVR. With less than 1% of basketball fans globally ever setting foot in an NBA arena, the league turned to technology for ways to replicate the unique court-side experience.

Here is what I have seen them do over the last 4 years working in partnership with the NBA:

  • The relentless appetite to innovate comes from the top. This helps identify trends early and permission to experiment.
  • Everyone comes to new opportunity with an open mind and is willing to let the partner (in my case Twitter and NextVR) guide the project with their expertise.
    The NBA sets the standards and the direction they are looking for in the partnership and then they get out of the way allowing the experts to do their best job.
  • Once the model works, they scale quickly.
  • Finally, once the program is scaling, collaborative creative thinking brings new idea to constantly evolve new products.

Hear more about the NBA innovation philosophy from Adam Silver the NBA commissioner himself at the AT&T Shape conference which took place on June 23 2019.

Marie Sornin

Marry Me Microsoft, the magic has happened

We are now 3 weeks in the “pre campaign” phase and I almost feel like calling this activation a success even though the actual event hasn’t started yet!

Why does it already look like a success?

1-      User engagement:
The magic has happened!!! We called out for engaged couples to enrol for the challenge and within 4 days we got an overwhelming number of entries. Not only a lot of them (numbers can’t be shared until the campaign is wrapped up), but good quality!! Those couples were genuinely excited about taking the challenge; of course the $25K towards the wedding and honeymoon probably helped, but judging by the stories and the enthusiasm of the participants, it was much more than cash that motivated the large majority of them!

We had to narrow all our entries down to 3 lucky shortlisted:

Megs & Dave:

Mic & Jenny:

Shaun & Simone:

We asked those three to put videos together, to undergo counselling, to sign statutory declaration, etc… Imagine that:  they were willing to put their entire wedding into this competition; we had to make sure they were not rushing things!! And then we turned to the audience to select their favourite couple.
That is when the magic happened:  the three couple reaching out to every single one of their friend for support, creating the Facebook ripple effect, friends of friends, of friends getting involved too…. more than just voting, challenging, explanation, posting messages of support, debating, the whole lot happening on the Windows AU Facebook page! And we haven’t even started the campaign…. At the end of the week, Mic and Jenny were elected the Marry Me Microsoft Couple!

2-      Cross media efficiency:
I have to say that I was a bit sceptical about the social results with the campaign being heavily promoted on TV, radio and print but lightly online. To my satisfaction, the daily Today show segments, supported by Nova spots as well as Ch 9 and Nova Facebook posts drove thousands of users to Windows AU Facebook page (here again, detailed results can’t be published before the campaign is wrapped up). In a nutshell content integration works!

3-      Working together:
This project is extremely complicated; coordinating every channel requirement and translating into social activity has pushed every member of the team to think outside his own area of expertise. We all covered stuff like: branded content/ TV prod/ legal/ technical/ and of course under the pressure of organising an event. Most important learning here:  always look for solutions!

Stay tuned, it’s all happening from Monday Dec 6th to Friday Dec 10th.

Marie Sornin

What are the three words that will guarantee social media success?

Surely, you will agree with me when I say that social media is a mini revolution in the way people use the Internet. Actually, I feel more accurate in saying a “mega evolution”. In this field marketers can’t assume that users will engage with their brands thanks to high awareness or because they are launching a promotion. Power to the users is more relevant than ever before and this is what makes social media such a complex discipline to master.

Once you’re in, your audience will get in the game (you might not be sure how but they will!). You must lead this game by pushing users to create positive feedback through engagement/ endorsement/ advocacy and eventually purchase intent.
OK pretty obvious, but how? Of course, training, strategic thinking, pro activity and reactivity are all actions that you will need but what is the magic factor that will make it happen?
To me, without a doubt success in social media is linked to three simple words: utility/ value/ entertainment

There are a lot of great campaign examples, such as Burger King Whooper Sacrifice, Tourism Queensland Best Job in the world, Virgin LA-4321, Old Spice, Cannon EOS Photo chain, Best Buys Twelpforce, Ikea Facebook catalogue, Gap Groupon promotion, etc…
Look no further, one way or another all those campaigns are based on one or more of these three magic words! The marketers at the origin of those activations brought to life a strong element of utility and/or value and/or entertainment. On top of that, they have leveraged the fundamentals of social media by letting people own their campaigns.

Firstly, they perfectly analyzed and understood their audience’s social media usage. Accurate insight is the very basic requirement for building engagement. You must know what users do in order to infiltrate and add, improve or influence their behaviors.
They were also ahead of the curve and came up with unique and ground breaking ideas. This is a must in social media: average doesn’t take off.
Finally, because they believed in the power of their strategies, they went ahead without compromising and focused their efforts and resources in developing best in class executions. Unfortunately, diminishing initial creative ideas is a mistake that still happens too often due to the difficulties in evaluating return on investment in social media.

Over the last couple of years a handful of campaigns stood out for me. I have briefly summarized some of them below. As you will see the results and awards speak for themselves.

 

Burger King Whooper Sacrifice

Whopper-sacrifice1

– The insight: the majority of your social network connections do not belong to your close circle of friends and family. Only 9% of your Facebook connections are friends you would call to go out for a beer. This percentage goes down to 3% on Linkedin and 0.3% on Twitter*.

– The business problem: sell more burgers!

– The campaign: trade each of your unwanted Facebook friends for $0.37 worth of fast food.

– The results**: even though Facebook considered the Burger King application to breach the privacy regulations (“de-friending” notification messages) and eventually pushed Burger King to discontinue the campaign, it was a major success.  In about 2 weeks nearly 234,000 Facebookers were “de-friended” for the sake of a hamburger and Burger King capped Whooper coupons to 25,000.

 

This is an old campaign but still one of my favorite! Burger King brilliantly turned the consumer insight into a useful, fun and valuable application, no surprise that users jumped on it and we still talk about it years later…

 

Best Buys Twelpforce:

Twelpforce11

– The insight: customers want to access help service the way that suits them best. 

– The business problem: how to deliver “dream support”? Ultimately the goal was to increase business and customer loyalty.

– The campaign: use the strength of the Best Buys sales specialists and customer service representatives and enlist a legion of them to respond to questions and concerns about Best Buys products and services that arise in the Twitter stream.

– The results***: after three months of activity (supported by a TV launch) the Twelpforce had grown from 400 to 2,200 Best Buys employees. They had responded to over 13,000 public questions, concerns, and opinions. The Twitter feed @twelpforce now counts over 29,000 followers and the number of questions averages 100-125 per day. This campaign won the 2010 Bronze Cyber Lion award in Cannes.

The great thing about this campaign is that Best Buys did encourage their employees to actively take part in the program. They provided training and guidelines and gave them a voice to express their passion and knowledge. Spontaneity, involvement was all it took to get this project to fly… What a useful and valuable tool for the customers, and for the employees!

Gap & Groupon back to school promotion:

 

Gap-groupon-deal

 

 

– The insight: break back to school sales record

– The business problem: break through in the midst of back to school offers and drive more customers to Gap stores nationally.

– The campaign: 50% discount exclusively available through Groupon: get $50 worth of Gap apparel and accessories for $25 only.

– The results****: the volume of takers was immediate and massive: nearly 300,000 purchases on the first day. This is Groupon’s best seller ever! (about 10 Groupons per second).

 Gap is clearly heading into social and geo localization and is putting its marketing powerhouse behind it. It was the first retailer to launch a massive 25% discount on Foursqaure earlier in September and then moved on to this partnership with Groupon. One might argue that such discounts are not necessary and have a huge cost to Gap but I think that the buzz and learnings generated by the campaign will be very valuable for the future of the business.

 

Canon EOS photo chain

 

Canon-eos

– The insight: the photographers community is made of various levels: from total beginners to professionals.

– The business problem: how to position Canon DSLR products at the heart of the photographers’ community?

– The campaign:  photo chain is an online platform where each shot taken by an individual inspires the next. It’s about a community of photographers working together and contributing their photos to keep the chains alive and growing.

– The results: throughout the campaign 18,709 images were uploaded, while photo chains images have been viewed almost 2 million times and 19,271 people signed up as members of the Canon EOS website.
This campaign won the 2010 IAB Australia social media award.

This is a beautiful creation from which emerged an active community. It is a fantastic way to produce earned content and build advocacy naturally. Definitely worth checking out, some of the images are stunning!

 

To finish off, I would say that when implementing a social media campaign, think of yourself as a user. As simple as that: evaluate your idea by asking yourself if you would engage with it? If the answer is yes: define your measurement metrics, set up organization processes within your team, a listening platform and go for it. Test and experiment…. and remember the 3 words, the 3 magic words: utility/ value/ entertainment

mariesornin

Sources:
*Publicis worldwide research 2009
** Adweek
*** Quotes from John Bernier, a Social Media Manager at Best Buys**** Quotes from Julie Mossler a spokeswoman for Groupon