Category Archives: Case study

30 MORE Examples of Corporate Social Media in Action

I wrote a post for Mashable awhile back looking at 35 Examples of Corporate Social Media in Action. Since some time has passed and more companies have risen to the challenge of creating innovative social media campaigns, I thought it was time to revisit this with an expanded list of social media for business case studies from a growing number of industries:

Dominos Pizza credits Foursquare with its UK sales growth.

Monique’s Chocolates in Palo Alto used Foursquare to acquire 50 new customers.

Highland Brewing, a microbrewery in North Carolina, turned to social media to build stronger relationships with beer drinkers. Sounds tough :-)

Old Spice creates personal videos for its Facebook fans and posts them on YouTube.

Norman Regional Health System in Oklahoma spends 30 minutes a day on Twitter and Facebook.

The Red Cross uses tools like Flickr and blogs to connect directly with their supporters.

red cross twitter page

Colgate used social media to drive engagement and purchases worldwide.

Land of Nod uses online customer reviews to strengthen its community and product offerings (VIDEO).

Cisco continues to evolve its social media practice, creating snackable content internally for its employees.

Vitamin Water let its fans create a new flavor on Facebook.

Dreyer’s leveraged characters from their “Share the Love” campaign to create a mobile game for the iPhone.

HP’s viral video campaign has some solid social media metrics behind it.

The Asia Foundation of San Francisco used Facebook for its recent Books for Asia campaign.

The NBA used social media (Twitter, Facebook, Gowalla) during the NBA Finals.

JetBlue uses Twitter very successfully for customer service support.

Xerox uses social media as part of a product launch (VIDEO – start watching about 2:30 in).

The Brooklyn Museum created a page to connect its Foursquare community.

brooklyn museum on foursquare

Leo Burnett’s use of Twitter during Cannes garnered more publicity for the firm than any other stunt in company history.

Spanish shoe company Munich uses its social media presence on Facebook to bring together its community in the real world.

Wells-Fargo uses social media during a financial crisis (VIDEO).

Pb Elemental Design is an architecture firm in Seattle that focused on buildings its social media presence on Facebook.

Intel explains how it has leveraged Facebook to grow their fan base to more than 115,000 fans.

Sharpie has some nice examples of how to make social media work on a small budget (VIDEO).

A luxury hotel in Greece used social media to increase all of its web marketing goals.

Rapper Snoop Dogg made over $200K selling branded clothing in virtual worlds.

Warner Brothers provides a case study of how NOT to engage bloggers and how NOT to react when your strategy misses the mark.

NPR shows how and when their listeners access their content on mobile platforms with lots of numbers.

Air Canada learned a tough lesson about monitoring Twitter and how a crisis can easily escalate.

Omo Laundry Detergent in Brazil hid GPS devices in 50 detergent boxes and then visits the winner’s houses to award the prizes.

Mazda launched a Facebook game to promote its new car.

Chesapeake Energy Corp. uses a host of social media tools to stay closer to its customers.

Punch Pizza in The Twin Cities uses Flickr, Facebook and Twitter to sell more pizza.

Einstein Bagels used Facebook to distribute a coupon, and to keep their fans abreast of updates when the coupon link didn’t work.

To follow the conversation and discover even more corporate social media case studies, click here.

David Perez is Disruptive

David Perez is a Chicago based recruiter for Leo Burnett. He convinced his bosses to let him go to the Cannes Film Festival under one condition: he had to wear a webcam attached to his glasses the entire time and do anything (yes, anything) that his Twitter followers request. Thus, David on Demand was born.

So far, he’s had to get a tattoo of the Twitter fail whale, buy balloons for children, pole dance and generally make a fool of himself in public, all the while talking to his Twitter followers.

David (or rather, by the sound of it, David’s PR people) was kind enough to answer a couple of questions before his trip via email:

Q: Tell us a little about how this idea went from a scheme for a free trip to a legitimate ticket to Cannes.

It is widely known that I have always wanted to go to Cannes. So when I learned about this social media adventure, I quickly volunteered and helped sell it into my boss.

David on Demand is a social media experiment that takes living vicariously to the next level. It is created by Leo Burnett and combines three very important elements in modern marketing – spontaneity, creativity and real-time technology. For 24 hours a day, six days straight, I will be your eyes and ears at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.

Q: What I like about this PR stunt is that you are not an actor or an intern, but a creative recruiter. How do you think this will help with recruitment?

It will help recruitment tremendously! Cannes is all about creative talent and networking, and I am the guy who can help people connect the dots. Always wanted to work in advertising? I can show the world not at Cannes what it’s really like and my followers can direct me to talk to people they have always looked up to or want to learn from. Or, people can send me a link to their portfolio and it just may end up in front of key decision makers at Cannes.

Q: Do you have a budget for what you can spend on activities people request on Twitter? What do you want to do the most?

I’m hoping that both advertising enthusiasts and inquisitive consumers take the opportunity to Tweet me to attend the most sought after seminars, meet with creative luminaries, and participate in the award ceremonies. But let’s be honest here, I’m sure people will tell me to jump in a fountain or yell something spontaneously in the middle of a speech. And then you’ll have your crazy boundary-pushing requests that I won’t do. I have limits.

But again, I hope people seize the opportunity to tell me to interview people they want to hear and learn from, send them their portfolios so I can check them out, or help me chart his journey at Cannes so I can deliver what’s going on to the folks back home.

Q: Tell us a bit about what technology you’re using to pull this off.

I am sporting web-enabled glasses, a backpack with a mobile live streaming device, around the clock access to my Twitter feed and a dedicated “on-demand” crew. I will be the most connected man at Cannes! I am wearing a backpack that essentially holds six 3G phones connected to 11 antennas that will grab signals and broadcast his experiences live to David on Demand. I am wearing a camera on my glasses that will take and record everything I do for 24 hours a day for six days. The live feed will be sent to Justin.tv for the world to see. The site actually has three channels – the main screen and two additional angles of David on Demand. Viewers will be able to view the different channels and even see what I experienced earlier in the day.

Thanks, Dave!

I love this stunt. David isn’t a paid actor, nor is he an intern. He’s a fearless recruiter and he’s really entertaining to watch! And if a recruiter is willing to pull a bold, attention getting stunt like this, what does it say about the company? Would you want to work someplace like this? I would.

CASE STUDY: Subscribers Are Not a Good ROI Metric

Situation

I wanted to start a new blog to share links, graphics, photos and other interesting nuggets encountered during my endless hours of Internet research, which my wife refers to as “piddling around.”

I created a new scrapblog using Posterous, an upstart blogging platform that was all the rage in social media circles two months ago.

During the next two weeks I added a link or so a day, but didn’t tell anyone about it. You can imagine my surprise then when I checked my Feedburner statistics and saw this:

found611 subscribers! Woo-hoo!

Analysis

Then reality set in. Impossible. There’s no way anyone knows about this blog. I started digging through the analytics and discovered that nearly all my subscriptions came from Friendfeed, a popular aggregation tool of social networking sites that was recently acquired by Facebook.

friendfeed

Since I only had about 150 collective views, it was totally impossible that so many people had “subscribed” to my blog. They hadn’t even seen the content! Apparently when I added the new blog to my Friendfeed profile, they were automatically counted as individual subscribers by Feedburner since my new posts appear on my Friendfeed page.

These aren’t actual subscribers. The majority of these users won’t view my blog or my content, as you can see:

feedburnerLesson

A little bit of Googling revealed that I’m not the first to discover this discrepancy. But when I talk to clients about measuring social media ROI, I now have a great example of why counting subscribers, comments or page views aren’t valuable metrics. They are all easy to artificially inflate with no effort.

Most social media savvy clients accept this in theory, but continue to have a difficult time selling the concept to management. My hope is that more stories like this will illustrate the value of new metrics. While there is still no standard, the pressure is on for companies like Radian6 and Visible Technologies, now armed with several years of data and statistical samples, to demonstrate their value in 2010.

Have your social media success metrics changed in the last 12 months? If so, how? Please share in the comments.

The below links are referenced in this post:

Aaron’s Posterous blog
Aaron’s Tumblr blog
Friendfeed
Feedburner
Google Results for “Friendfeed AND Feedburner”

REVIEW: The FedEx Blog

fedex

(NOTE: Updated for accuracy following comment by Matt Ceniceros from FedEx. Thanks, Matt!)

Every now and again, I like to conduct a brief review of a corporate blogging initiative to see how companies are advancing their social media strategies. This week, I’m taking a look at the FedEx blog network. Hopefully we can all learn a few lessons from what the company is doing right and where there’s room for improvement.

URL: http://citizenshipblog.fedex.designcdt.com/

First post: January 8, 2008

Four sub-categories:
Community & Disaster Relief
Economics & Access
Environment & Efficiency
People & Workplace

Pros:

The blog is updated several times a week with content provided by FedEx employees around the world. You’ll even find posts from the company’s CEO and its presidents.

Every post is tagged with keywords describing the content, and there is a weighted tag cloud on the sidebar so you can quickly see what topics are written about with the most frequency.

The sidebar also features links to the company’s Twitter profile and a badge showing they are part of the Alltop community, two signs of a larger social media strategy.

Since its inception, the blog has served as a place of conversation on a plethora of topics. There are posts about some of the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts, personal posts from employees that have helped with important strategic work, and even sad news, like that of the plane crash in Tokyo that claimed the lives of its crew. Overall, the content is extremely well rounded and a superb example of enforcing the global citizenship message.

Cons:

I’m a bit unsure if all posts are truly authored by the people to whom they’re accredited. Some of the posts strike a more personal tone that fits well with a blog format, while others feel overly formal. For example, the post about the free resume printing day was authored by FedEx Office CEO Brian Phillips, but there’s not one personal sentiment in there to suggest that the post is from him. It just doesn’t feel authentic. In particular, this post has just over 1,000 views and only 4 comments, all of which go unanswered. Since this was such a large, successful promotion in the US, one would expect more attention here, particularly since if the post was truly from the company’s CEO.

Overall, the blog has very few external links, even when there are clear opportunities to do so (i.e. linking to the home pages of the charities they discuss, the news stories they reference or the companies they post about).

The archives are sorted chronologically, but only by year and not by topic, making them difficult to search.

There are many instances of executives just re-posting press releases without adding any substantive commentary. It’s important to remember that a corporate blog is not a clearing house for marketing materials, but a place for honest conversation.

While the audience is supposedly people interested in “the issues related to FedEx”, the blog seems to cater to a largely internal audience judging by its content. That’s fine, but it’s still unclear who the target audience for this initiative is.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This is a really strong effort on the part of FedEx, and I’d recommend corporate bloggers review the blog (especially the well written, clear guidelines, for some best practices. While its not perfect, the areas I found for improvement seem like pretty easy fixes.

What do you think? Have you ever visited the FedEx blog as a customer? Share your feedback below.

How Dell Generated $3 million in Sales Using Twitter

Dell Outlet on TwitterThere was an exciting announcement recently from the folks at Dell that the company has surpassed $3 million in sales as a result of promotions offered via the @DellOutlet Twitter account. While many will likely tout this as proof of “social media ROI,” there’s a lot more to the story.

Here’s what I think Dell did to generate that type of revenue. If your company can mimic this model, you’ll probably be able to make your first million using Twitter as well:

FAIL
Years before any other company had to consider the implications of ignoring customers online, Jeff Jarvis and an army of unsatisfied Dell users coined the term, “Dell Hell,” forcing the company to listen, even if they weren’t ready.

FAIL AGAIN
When Dell finally launched its first blog in July 2006, which was titled One2One, the company immediately changed its name to Direct2Dell due to the existence of a certain pornography site bearing the same name. A minor embarrassment, but one that was easily overlooked. Dell was at last talking with its customers.

FAIL BIGGER
When the Consumerist published a post from a former Dell sales associate, the company responded with a cease and desist letter from its legal department. This generated even more negative attention for their social media efforts. Only days later did the company respond by using its blog.

FAIL EVERYWHERE
Remember Second Life? It was the Twitter of 2007. Dell launched an island and tried selling PCs via the virtual world interface. While the island had some exciting features, it was often vacant and likely never became the revenue source some expected. However, the Island still exists and the Dell team (led by the amazing Laura Thomas) continues to actively participate in the community by hosting a variety of events for Second Life residents and Dell customers. The company learned how the Second Life community wanted to Dell to participate and the company adapted better than most.

I’m being dramatic by using the word ‘failure’ to describe some of its early forays into social media. Dell tried a lot of different tactics to find which ones resonated with their audience. Sometimes the results of the experiments with community building might not have yielded the expected results. But these lessons were valuable learning opportunities for the company (as well as for the rest of us) to better understand the model for two way conversations between companies and its constituencies.

From these lessons, Dell was able to better prepare for the social media engagement their customers demanded. Let’s look at some of the things they’ve done very well:

DEDICATE RESOURCES
Richard Binhammer, Lionel Menchaca and (formerly) Bob Pearson are probably the most public facing of Dell’s social media team, but the company has more than 30 employees dedicated to its online community customer service team. And it’s not just any people, it’s the right people. People empowered to respond on behalf of the company, people authorized to help.

CREATE A FORUM FOR CONVERSATIONS
Dell was the first large company to implement the SalesForce IdeaStorm offering that allowed customers to propose new ideas to the company that were then voted on by visitors to the site. The best ideas rose to the top and were shared with management. Starbucks followed suit with My Starbucks Idea and the two companies are often cited in social media circles for their willingness to open up direct lines of communications with their customers.

SEGMENT CUSTOMERS AND SPEAK WITH THEM
Gamers, women, small business owners. Dell listened to the conversations happening online and created customer experiences to meet their needs. Great examples of this include the Green community and the Gaming community.

CREATE A HEADQUARTERS WITH MANY BRANCHES
There are 33 corporate Twitter accounts (not to mention countless awesome employee accounts), three Flickr photostreams, 433 YouTube videos, 22 Facebook Groups, 12 Blogs, eight Forums, 18 public wikis, and of course, IdeaStorm. They have a community landing page featured prominently on the Dell site and accounts that are moderated by Dell employees on multiple social media platforms as well.

MEASURE SUCCESS
One of the lessons I’ve learned from Dell’s efforts is that revenue is the old model for a campaign’s success, and it really doesn’t translate well online. People don’t want to be sold to when they’re in a social environment. The best campaigns seem to support customer service, relationship building (between customers, not just between the customer and the brand) and knowledge exchange. Make sure that you’re looking at the appropriate metrics, especially when you’re starting out. These will change over time as you see what works.

CONCLUSION
The $3 million in Twitter revenue was not achieved just by setting up an account and “following” potential customers. It was part of a strategy rolled out over several years that continues to evolve with the tools and the needs of the company’s community. Relationships take time to build. Your brand will make mistakes. What’s important is that you keep trying to find the right fit, that you listen to your customers, and that you give your customers the experience and attention they deserve. In the end, it literally pays off.

Have you learned any lessons from Dell’s experiences? What’s an example of a change you made based on your participation in an online social community?

CHALLENGE: 2009 Social Media Case Studies

dolphin and cow

If you attended any social media webinar, seminar, conference, panel or similar session in the last 12 months, the case studies referenced by the speakers to showcase the value of social media likely included Dell, Blend-Tec, Starbucks and/or Comcast.

And you probably heard them referenced multiple times by multiple people. The problem was that the social media professionals (call them consultants, gurus, experts, whatever) would take the microphone and share the same four or five stories to illustrate successful examples of  corporate social media work. It was the same redundant thing every time.

I’m just as guilty as everyone else. Those case studies were standards in my deck over the last year and honestly, they were fantastic for introducing the possibilities of social media to an audience largely unfamiliar with the platforms and skeptical of their relevance. I might still use them from time to time with people new to the subject. But really, it’s time to move on.

If you’re still unfamiliar with these case studies, there is ample reference material online that I’ll link to here:

GOOD NEWS

It worked! The hundreds of hours spent evangelizing the benefits of social media combined with the crappiness of the current economy transformed words to action. Many brands have launched blogs, signed up for Twitter and established Facebook Fan pages. Often these case studies helped them to do it.

BAD NEWS

Many still don’t get it. It’s not enough to just set up a social media account and check it off the list. There’s still a lack of strategy behind many of these engagements, and part of the blame falls on how it’s presented (while the other part is management bureaucracy, budgets and a whole lot of other factors beyond our control). As trusted advisors, it’s important we illustrate the benefits of a solid social media strategy by using examples from a diverse set of industries.

OUR JOB

If you are someone who is fortunate enough to have a speaking gig or two lined up in 2009 , I hope you’ll come armed with some new case studies. It would be very impressive if they were case studies from projects you actually worked on. At the very least, conduct a bit of original research so that your version of the case study has a nugget or two that we haven’t heard a thousand times before. We don’t want to hear only about companies that are doing a great job, but those that struggled out of the gate as well. We don’t want only big companies, but also small businesses and players in the B2B space.

You can start by checking out this wiki by Peter Kim that is updated with the latest and greatest examples of corporate social media.

Of course, I’m going to do the same. The gauntlet has been thrown. Bring it.

Photo credit: Tidewater_Muse

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