How do you stand out in the crowded social media market? For FURminator the solution to this problem was branding a relatively unknown holiday as its own and embracing the creative and quirky work of professional YouTubers for promotion.
Learn how FURminator’s five-day YouTube and social media blitz for National Hairball Awareness Day resulted in over 110,000 views on YouTube for the promoted content, a 1174% increase in new followers on Facebook and the type of positive authentic audience engagement that would make most brands purr.
FURminator is a specialty brand, directed specifically at pet owners. The majority of the brand focuses on fur removal and pet hygiene with its pet-and-size-specific deshedding tools.
"[Our] goals are … to enhance the relationship between pet parents and their pets, making their grooming time more enjoyable," Matt Kirk, Brand Manager, FURminator, said. "It's really coming up with innovative solutions for pet hair challenges."
The marketing team at FURminator was looking for a creative and distinctive way to promote its pet deshedding products. A possible solution to their awareness challenge came in the form of National Hairball Awareness Day. Even though this is a nationally acknowledged holiday, few companies had promotionally taken advantage of it, allowing FURminator to claim the celebration of this day for itself.
"It's really the celebration around the cat and being able to claim National Hairball Awareness Day, which falls [on] the last Friday in April," Kirk said. "I believe it's only been the last maybe two years of really owning that celebration."
In the past, the celebration of this holiday has been used to raise awareness for the company and its cat deshedding tool. These pet-specific deshedding tools are the company's main products and this fur-removal-focus makes National Hairball Awareness Day the perfect holiday for the brand.
"The result [of the deshedding tool] is basically less hairballs, less mess, less stress for the cat and less of the cough per se," he said. "FURminator itself is, in our view, the most highly effective tool for removing both the loose hair and preventing the hairballs."
The company wanted to continue its tradition of celebrating this holiday, but it wanted this celebration to stand out from the ones in years past. In addition to this creative requirement, the team also wanted this year's campaign to build awareness while engaging with users, specifically new users.
The team collaborated with FURminator's vendor to create and innovate a YouTube campaign in celebration of National Hairball Awareness Day. This campaign represented a departure from the more traditionally-focused campaigns used in years past.
FURminator worked with five influential YouTube creators to produce a series of videos promoting the deshedding tool for cats. Four of these influencers released their videos on the Monday through Thursday leading up to National Hairball Awareness Day, and the fifth creator released her video on the actual holiday. This campaign went from idea conception to execution in three months, and tied into FURminator's push for creativity.
"We wanted to use YouTube as part of that influence, or base, to gain that awareness and video as one of the tactics to visually carry that out," Kirk explained.
"When you go into [FURminator] stores, you'll notice we really have a lot of displays with monitors in them. This is to leverage … a more creative aspect with our new users or existing users and celebrating the [holiday]," he said.
This five-day campaign increased FURminator's social media audience and gave the company access to a diverse combination of demographics.
Step #1. Identify the campaign goals
Once the decision was made to implement a YouTube campaign, the team sat down to discuss what the specific campaign goals would be. Two of these goals were the previously mentioned audience awareness and social media engagement. Specifically, the team wanted to raise awareness about National Hairball Awareness Day, the dangers of hairballs and how FURminator's products could help.
However, the campaign's main goal was the promotion of the deshedding tool.
"There are some other hairball specific products we have within FURminator, from a solutions standpoint, but the deshedding tool is really our core," Kirk said. "So the deshedding tool was the main focus because that gives the pet parent the biggest 'aha' from not using to using. The other [goals] would have been secondary."
Step #2. Target YouTube creators
Once the campaign's goals were decided, the team reached out to YouTube creators. The team wanted to use YouTube creators to give the campaign a fresh and creative twist. Using YouTube creators could also potentially give the brand access to an audience base FURminator might not typically reach.
The team wanted to ensure the creators they partnered with would speak to FURminator's target audience and reach a wide variety of consumers. With these goals in mind, the team developed a process to select their ideal YouTubers.
FURminator's team used two platforms to pitch to interested YouTubers. These platforms — Reelio and FameBit — connect brands with high-influence YouTube creators. Brands create campaign-specific proposals for creators, and in turn, creators pitch their ideas to the brand.
The team created proposals, which said they were looking for YouTubers to work with FURminator to celebrate National Hairball Awareness Day. These proposals asked for a creative pitch for the campaign, and the team received over 70 submissions from this effort.
These pitches presented a wide array of ideas, from custom rap songs to creating craft projects from hair creators had "FURminated."
According to the team, these pitches were crazy ideas that marketers would not typically think of for a brand. These left-field pitches were exactly what the team was looking for.
Step #3. Select five YouTube proposals
After receiving the YouTuber proposal, the team looked at the demographics for each creator's channel. The team wanted to understand the demographic or customer persona each creator reached, how wide their reach was and what the reach of a FURminator-sponsored video could potentially be.
Another key aspect the FURminator team was looking for was the prevalence of cats in each creator's channel. The team was looking for proud pet parents — creators who had featured cats on their channel at some point in time.
They wanted the cat to be a well-known character on the channel, which would create authenticity for the creator using the deshedding tool. FURminator's team did not want this feline appearance to feel forced.
Also, the team had a specific demographic they wanted to reach. As far as age ranges, the team wanted to reach male and female consumers all the way from the lower 20s to the upper 30s.
Taking the time to research each proposal was especially important, the team explained, because when it comes to YouTube creators, brands are not just getting the video. They are also receiving the organic reach of each YouTubers audience and fans. Most of the creators the team reviewed had followings in the hundreds of thousands, some in the millions. These built-in followings added value for the FURminator team.
Based on their proposals and their audience demographics, the team selected five YouTube creators. These YouTubers were selected with the team's goal for the campaign to feature a variety of creative ideas and to reach a wider variety of audiences when it comes to age, gender and demographic in mind.
At this stage, the team began finalizing relationships and negotiating rates with the YouTubers. The legal team was also brought in at this stage to provide the YouTubers with an outline of what FURminator was hoping to achieve.
Once the team had selected the YouTubers they wanted to work with, they sent these five creators a deshedding tool, explained what National Hairball Awareness Day was and awaited the finished videos.
Step #4. Review the final product
As part of the legal agreement between FURminator and the YouTubers, the campaign team had the opportunity to review videos in advance. Everyone on the brand-side was able to see all the videos as well as the vendor team and the company's legal team. This clause made everyone involved more comfortable with the coming publication.
The review process started two weeks before the videos were scheduled to run.
Creators were not given scripts or a list of specific components by FURminator to have in the videos. YouTubers were encouraged to drive the creative and work with the brand in their distinct voice.
Step #5. Use social media to promote the campaign
The week of National Hairball Awareness Day, the YouTube creators released their videos and FURminator used its social media channels to promote the five-day campaign. The team had a small paid media budget, which they used to boost the conversation that was already happening organically.
Specifically, this media budget was used to boost strategic posts about the videos during the week of the holiday. This allowed the campaign to get in front of a larger audience while ensuring the conversation was authentic. FURminator also ran ads for the company and its deshedding tool in the campaign's YouTube videos.
The YouTube creators also promoted the post through their social media channels. By posting to its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, FURminator was able to connect to these YouTubers' audiences on a more direct level.
The team wanted to focus on engaging with audiences as organically as possible. FURminator representatives only directly contributed to the natural conversation when there were specific questions about the deshedding tool or the holiday. The team emphasized the importance of letting the audience have their own celebratory moment about the YouTube content.
As for FURminator-produced social media posts, the team wrote roughly 12 posts per day. Most of the content was scheduled to post in advance, and all of it was pre-approved by legal. However, of the dozen prewritten posts, only about three to eight posts were posted per a day depending on the platform.
This decision was a result of the team looking at each post's analytics. At the end of each day, they would analyze the impact of the posts to ensure they were reaching the widest audience possible. As the campaign went on, the team started to post less but boost posts more.
Even three posts per day is a jump from FURminator's standard social media strategy. On a standard week, the brand posts an estimated two posts every other day, resulting in roughly four posts a week. This strategically low level of social posting is designed to provide followers a consistent stream of relevant content without overloading them.
Through the social promotion of creators and FURminator, the brand experienced numbers far larger than the brand typically experiences during National Hairball Awareness Week. The lifts FURminator saw spanned across several channels:
New follower count increased 60% compared to a standard week
New count increased 424% compared to a standard week
Interactions, favorites and retweets increased by 490%
New follower count increased 1174% compared to a standard week
Interactions increased by 537% compared to a standard week
Over 110,000 total views (combined)
Over 1,600 thumbs up
The team was especially excited about the conversations happening through these channels. There were several comments praising the brand and the holiday, which the team was happy to see happen organically. Some users even made comments about specific intentions to buy their own deshedding tool, which was an unexpected highlight from this campaign. The week of the celebration, FURminator's website also saw a 16% lift in traffic compared to a standard week.
FURminator's celebration of National Hairball Awareness Week led to an unexpected amount of third-party attention. Several blogging sites, including Catster blog, The Snug and Urban Paws, covered the holiday and FURminator's YouTube content.
"I really thought we captured the ownership of and celebration of National Hairball Awareness Day, between the campaign and [the] team and what we established for success criteria along with the just general awareness of the day," Kirk said.
"To me that was a win, along with what we were creating awareness around, which is ... a pet problem," he said, adding that the campaign was "bringing more new FURminator pet parents into the brand."
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