May 23, 2013
Case Study

Social Media Marketing: Sony Electronics increased new follower growth 200% with charitable Pinterest board

SUMMARY: Launching a new social media platform for your company can be an uphill battle. Stirring up the kind of buzz and social status to garner the attention of new fans, as well as those from other outlets, takes a creative approach.

In this case study, read how Sony Electronics' social media team leveraged an outside social movement and a larger internal campaign into a charitable campaign that established and expanded their new presence in the Pinterest community.
by Courtney Eckerle, Reporter


In the past year, Sony Electronics has launched on Pinterest, as well as Instagram and Socialcam, and the three new platforms were "definitely growing," said Callan Green, Social Media Specialist, Sony Electronics. However, she and her team needed to focus on creative and engaging ways to grow the audience, as well as bring over fans from established platforms.

Along with managing emerging platforms, Green works to connect Sony with social influencers and bloggers, and integrate social media assets with Sony’s larger marketing events.

In order to grow Sony's fledgling presence on Pinterest, she decided to link it with a growing online social movement called "Giving Tuesday," as well as integrating it into the overall "Love to Give" campaign Sony was conducting for the holiday season.

By combining all of these areas, Green and her team were able to launch the "Pin It to Give It" campaign on Pinterest with the objective of garnering followers both from other platforms of the Sony brand and outside the company's sphere.

Covered in a previous MarketingSherpa Email Marketing case study was Sony’s email promotion of its Pinterest, and how it was integrated into its newsletter sends. This case study focuses on how Sony chooses which platforms to participate in through one of the first social media promotions run to support and grow it.


"Part of my role is tying into our larger quarterly campaigns, and for the holidays, our campaign was all about the theme of giving," Green said. "We wanted to do something that really reflected that theme, and we wanted to do it on Pinterest."

During the holiday season, Pinterest is a relatively quiet space compared to the brand presences crowded onto Facebook and Twitter.

"A lot of brands at this time are so heavy on Facebook and Twitter that we really thought it would be great to be somewhere else where [other brands weren’t] putting so much emphasis on during this busy time," she said.

Sony's Pinterest page launched Pin It to Give It in November, with the idea for every pin on the dedicated board until the end of the year, Sony would donate a dollar to charity.

The Michael Phelps Foundation for The Boys and Girls Club was chosen to further align the campaign with the overall corporate campaign since "we have been working with for the past year, and we wanted to continue to support them," Green said.

Step #1. Choose which social networks to engage with

There isn't a set process for evaluating new platforms to launch onto, Green said, but evaluation is based on "momentum, platform potential and use case for our brand."

In the case of Pinterest, she said, it was begun in December 2011 "right before every other brand jumped on."

Her team was personally using the platform, perhaps the best way to learn it, and realized how quickly it was growing within her own circle.

"We also recognized the tremendous potential that this type of social network could have over buying habits," she said.

The final step is researching pins and boards of users to determine if there was any interest shown by consumers on Pinterest to interact with Sony products.

"We researched pins and boards to determine if there was a use case for Sony, and saw that many people were already pinning out products. At that point, it only made sense to dive in," Green said.

Step #2. Drive opportunities to create awareness for campaign

One problem Green and her team ran into was Pinterest doesn't have ads as a part of its platform yet.

"We had to figure out ways to drive awareness to this campaign, because we wanted it to be big so that we could donate a whole hunk of money," she said.

They decided to donate up to $25,000 in the campaign, which Green said, "We thought was really aggressive, but we wanted to give ourselves plenty of room to make a solid donation."

When speaking with a past colleague at Mashable, Green heard about an Internet movement called "Giving Tuesday," which was going into its inaugural year.

Giving Tuesday was to take place after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the year's most notorious shopping days. The objective was to encourage companies and consumers alike to take a day to focus on giving back.

"There are two days during the holiday season that are all about getting — getting deals … and the Internet wanted to get together collectively for a day that was about giving," Green said.

When she heard about Giving Tuesday, Green said she and her team thought, "Gosh, how perfect — we can start our campaign on that day, and it did tie into the large social media plan of Giving Tuesday."

At that point, she said, they hadn't established a time table, so Giving Tuesday arose as the perfect deadline, launching on November 27.

Also, Green said they reached out and worked with the Giving Tuesday team, "to be one of their inaugural partners that they talked about when they spoke to media, so we got some nice coverage that way as well."

By partnering with Giving Tuesday from the outset, Sony received press on the campaign from outlets covering the event, including CNN, Mashable, NBC News and The Guardian, among others.

Step #3. Reach out to other Sony social platforms

Green's team began promoting the campaign on Sony's other social networks first by creating the ad that was going to be pinned on Pinterest, as well as posted across their social sphere.

Green said they worked very closely with the marketing team at Sony, to work the Pinterest campaign into Sony's Love to Give marketing campaign as a whole, in order for it to fit in seamlessly.

"Since it was a spin-off of their larger campaign, and we wanted to make sure that aesthetically it matched what was going on," she said.
The teams worked together on everything from the "Pin it to Give it" flagship pin to all of the advertising leading up to the campaign as well.

The campaign was launched first with a blog post on the Sony blog, which was shared across Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and every other Sony social platform.

At that point, they also launched with the flagship "Pin it" graphic on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, which "explained the program and clicked through to the blog post so that people could better understand it," according to Green.

Throughout the process, Green said the team continued to reach out via their other social platforms, encouraging those fans and followers to pin, comment and share, as well as updating them on the progress.

They even created an individual Pinterest tab on their Facebook page so fans could go right to the "Pin it to Give it" board without leaving Facebook, as well as being able to view all the pins that had already been placed on the board.

In addition to the organic social sharing, Green said they also did paid social advertising, such as a promoted tweet and sponsored stories.

Step #4. Keep it simple to build up the board

"The board was full of products," Green said, adding the team incorporated holiday imagery, using backgrounds for products that were red, green and some even featured in the snow.

The original pin on the board explained the outlines of the campaign to followers, but Green said really, the objective was to keep it simple.

"They could repin it in any way that they wanted," Green said. "If they wanted to repin one thing, they could. If they wanted to create a board, they could. We really left it open to their imagination."

They tried to pin a lot to the board themselves to give users many options. Green said she has seen companies do campaigns or contests that don't feature a multitude of pins, or have complicated rules, and they wanted to make it as simple as possible.

"It doesn't give people a ton of autonomy to use their own voice or pin something that they would actually want on their board," Green said about complex Pinterest contests.

Green said they had around 45 pins on the board so people could "pin something they actually liked so they wouldn’t be just pinning for the sake of pinning … to be like, 'Oh, this camera is actually cool, I'll pin this to my 'Want' board.'"

Keeping social media simple is one of Sony's strategies across the board, she said, "I think no matter what [platform] you're on, your user would rather have a simple experience."


"The response was really, really positive. In fact, I don't think there was any negative response. People were excited, and they thought it was a really easy way that they could give back," Green said.

The timing of the campaign was important, Green added, in being able to work within Sony's larger Love to Give campaign, as well as being one of the first companies to stand with the Give Back Tuesday event.

"Being able to align ourselves with a larger movement across the Internet was very beneficial to us. It gave us a PR story … it helped to anchor our campaign," she said.

The results they saw from the campaign were:
  • 12,500 repins to Pin it To Give it board

  • Campaign increased new follower growth by 200% over average growth per month

  • 350% increase in brand impressions over average month

  • 6,925 followers for the Pin it to Give it board

  • More than 20 media placements

Green said the campaign produced a "halo effect" for the page, and pins outside of the campaign had a 210% increase over the average number of repins a month.

The 12,500 repins her team was able to achieve through the Pin it to Give it campaign felt especially good, Green said, because that number was "the total amount of re-pins we’d gotten to date, in the whole year that we had been running Pinterest. So, to get all of that in a month, we were really pleased."

On average, she said, they consider a good pin to be one that receives 10 repins.

"I would say about one-third of our pins hit the 10 repins or over mark. But that being said, these pins were all getting 300 or 400 repins, and that's obviously a number that we were very excited about," she said.

Trying something new was a "big risk" she said, investing time and money into the project that might not have achieved growth for Sony on Pinterest and elevate its status on social media.

"Trying something new ended up being really successful for us, and that is something our team tries to do across the board — do something other people aren't doing … so while the risk was large, it ended up being a really solid investment," she concluded.

Creative Samples

  1. Sony campaign blog post

  2. Facebook post on campaign progress

  3. Facebook tab for Pinterest

  4. Promoted tweet for campaign

  5. Original campaign pin


Sony Electronics

Related Resources

Social Email Integration: Sony Electronics nets 3,000 clickthroughs from email to "pin" on Pinterest

Inbound Marketing: 5 tips for cultivating user generated content

Content Marketing: A process for evaluating content channels

Viral Marketing: Month-long sweepstakes generates 1,170% ROI and 488% lift in email subscribers

Social Media Marketing: Michaels Stores increases Pinterest board followers by 86% with contest

Social Media Marketing: How New York Public Library increased card sign-ups by 35%

Social Media Marketing: Startup achieves 900% Facebook fan growth through sweepstakes

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