July 13, 2010
Best Practice

MarketingSherpa's 2010 Viral and Social Marketing Hall of Fame: 8 Inspirational Campaigns

SUMMARY: Social media campaigns and viral marketing efforts allow marketers to use the power of their audiences to spread a message.

For inspiration, take a look at the achievements of the eight inductees to Sherpa's 2010 Viral and Social Marketing Hall of Fame. This year's honorees include Paramount Pictures, Chik-fil-A, Qwest Communications and Application Security, Inc.
MarketingSherpa broadened our viral marketing honors this year to launch the first-ever Viral and Social Marketing Hall of Fame -- and you responded wonderfully.

Entries poured in describing campaigns that took on lives of their own, significantly used social media channels to meet a specific marketing goal, or both.

With viral and social marketing so closely related, we saw the new format for our annual Hall of Fame as a natural evolution. Today, many marketers use social media to spur audiences to spread messages and generate a viral response. However, social media has uses beyond viral marketing, as you'll see from this year's inductees.

We selected five B2C campaigns and three B2B campaigns to illustrate a variety of strategies that achieved fantastic results.

Here are three central themes we recognized this year:

-> Social can reach targeted audiences

Our 2010 B2B inductees illustrate that social networks are not only channels through which to reach the masses. These marketers are effectively using them to reach well-targeted audiences.

By identifying and interacting with highly-relevant prospects and turning them into business leads, this year's inductees showed that social media has crucial place alongside email, search engines, blogs and other tools in the B2B marketer's repertoire.

-> Strong offers can go viral with a social touch

Some marketers think successful viral marketing campaigns are too complicated to achieve. This simply isn't the case. We selected several inductees based on the simplicity of their efforts and their fantastic results.

For example, social sharing tools are free, simple to use and can quickly add a dash of social media to any marketing campaign. When coupled with an exceptionally strong offer, such as a free product or steep discount, these tools facilitate viral responses that can massively expand a campaign's reach. There is nothing complicated about sharing an amazing deal with friends.

-> Aggressive strategies can pay off

Some marketers still want to do something different, splashy and special to achieve a viral effect. But the successful ones leave little to chance. Through media events that are sure to capture both traditional and online press, and by giving their audiences cutting-edge tools through which to tell friends, they launch an aggressive campaign to capture attention and get people talking.

Bolder viral strategies often require more upfront investment, but when they're adequately planned to build off their own buzz, the results can be phenomenal, reaching millions of people and driving strong business impact.

So without further introduction, here are the inductees to MarketingSherpa’s 2010 Viral and Social Marketing Hall of Fame:

B2C Inductees

1. Paramount Pictures' "Paranormal Activity" Nationwide Opening Campaign

This horror movie benefited from almost paranormal levels of online buzz when its marketing team released the film for limited midnight screenings in 13 college markets. But the campaign's call-to-action caused more than 1 million consumers to demand that the film open in their cities as well -- paving the way for a nationwide release.

See how this multichannel campaign used everything from websites to widgets to promote the film "Paranormal Activity." The results were so good, they were scary!

See Paramount's "Paranormal Activity" campaign

2. Chick-fil-A Free Chicken Mailer

A free meal is hard to turn down -- two free meals are even more difficult. See how this quick serve restaurant location added a dash of social media to a direct mail coupon for two free sandwiches and achieved a delicious viral response.

See Chick-fil-A's campaign

3. Jimmy Choo's Shoe Hunt in London

This luxury shoe retailer looked for the cutting edge in social media promotion and walked right over it. Wanting to combine offline and online promotion, the team ran a treasure hunt in London to promote its new line of shoes. Hints about the prizes' locations were sent via social networks. Contestants ran all over town, and the buzz ran all over the web.

See Jimmy Choo's campaign

4. New York Public Library’s 'Don’t Close the Book on Libraries' Campaign

Faced with a drastic budget cut from the city, the New York Public Library studied up on how to call attention to its dwindling resources. The team recruited an improvisational group to shoot a viral video in the library, which they heavily promoted via email and social media channels. The buzz spilled into online and traditional media, and donations exceeded the team’s goals -- twice over.

See the NYPL's campaign

5. ZAGG’s Free iPad Giveaways

Sometimes the right product, at the right time, with the right promotion can benefit from buzz from a completely different product. Take ZAGG’s iPad giveaways, for example. By giving away one of the hottest products in the country (Apple’s iPad) the team saw tremendous success in growing its email list and sales of gadget accessories. This simple effort had a massive ROI.

See ZAGG's campaign

B2B Inductees

1. Application Security, Inc.’s "The UNProtected" web film and comic book series

B2B marketers are sometimes so caught up in generating leads that they forget "leads" are really people -- and people like to be entertained. See how this database security vendor created a fun, entertaining way to educate prospects about the importance of database security, using an online film series, a graphic novella and a user-generated video contest they promoted across a host of social media channels.

In the end, 45% of visitors to the film microsite became qualified leads when touched with subsequent nurturing.

See Application Security, Inc.'s campaign

2. Qwest Communications 'Johnny Lee Ross & the MotherBoard 2010 World Tour' Campaign

Social media lets you inject a little more personality into your brand, but the team at Qwest Communications took this tactic further by creating an entirely new character for a trade show campaign -- Johnny Lee Ross, leader of the fictional heavy metal band MotherBoard.

See how they gave Johnny his own social media accounts to build buzz before the important event, and combined his rock and roll story with real business issues to attract 37% more of their targeted prospects to their booth in 2010.

See Qwest's campaign

3. Initiate's 2010 HIMSS Trade Show Campaign

Even if you don't want to go as far as creating a fictional character for a trade show campaign, social media channels are an essential component of any event marketing strategy. The team from Initiate took advantage of LinkedIn groups and Twitter hashtags provided by the trade show organizer, and incorporated these channels with their own email campaigns, blog and YouTube channel to stand out in the field of exhibitors.

The result was a 48.5% increase in meetings with qualified prospects during the show and a lift in new sales opportunities and advancement of existing opportunities.

See Initiate's campaign

Useful links related to this article

Improve your own social marketing skills at MarketingSherpa’s Social Marketing ROAD Map Strategy Training Workshops, beginning July 22 in Boston, MA.

Members Library -- MarketingSherpa’s Viral Marketing Hall of Fame 2009: Top 7 Campaigns

Members Library -- Viral Website and Street Team Strategy Shatters Lead Gen Goal: 6 Steps

Members Library -- Ride Nonstop Viral Buzz to Triple-Digit Revenue Growth: 7 Strategies

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