We are often asked, “How do you go about creating a social media campaign? Where do you start, what do you do, how do you know if it is working?” We decided to share how we answer these questions with all of you to get your feedback on our approach and hear from you on what you may do differently. Hubspot recently recognized our John Deere/Chip Foose campaign as one of their 11 online marketing success stories so thought that would be a good one to use as our example project.
John Deere had selected Chip Foose, of the famous Discovery channel Overhaulin’ t.v. show to turn a legendary Big Buck 4020 tractor in to a one-of-a-kind hotrod. To help bolster their 1Q purchase incentive, John Deere decided to add a contest to the mix with the big winner taking home the tractor. Before we came on board, the advertising/PR team had already decided on an online multi-webisode video effort to show Chip Foose customizing the tractor over time, along with a variety of banner ads, traditional PR releases, and official website landing page to support the campaign. The campaign started in November 2009 with the contest winner scheduled to be announced in late summer 2010. The “new” Big Buck overhauled 4020 tractor would be unveiled at the Commodity Classic in Anaheim, CA in March 2010 and then would go on tour as part of the annual Drive Green tour through July 2010. The John Deere Drive Green tour showcases new equipment at various local dealerships throughout the country.
Begin with Corporate Strategy & Support
What is your client trying to achieve? Do they have goals/key performance indicators defined? If not, you need to start with helping them identify these goals. In the case of the John Deere Big Buck 4020 campaign they had the following determined:
- Maintain 1st quarter market share (in the years prior they had experienced a slip in 1st quarter market share)
- 200,000 contest entries (all entries had to be submitted through the local dealership)
- Increase foot traffic to local dealerships
What resources/content are available? In our case we understood we would be working with an online partner, a 10-14 day release of 7 webisodes, pictures, limited access to in-house writers, support from PR, and would need to drive traffic to the main corporate website.
What rules/policies are in place? At the time of hiring, John Deere was in the process of hiring a corporate social media agency of record so we were not able to utilize any social network profiles with the exception of a newly created you-tube account. We created a risk management plan that clearly defined what we could reply to online vs. when/how we would engage John Deere resources. We also defined our monitoring and response guidelines.
Who are you working with? We partnered with the department PR agency and worked through them in our interactions with all corporate departments including PR, Marketing, and Advertising. It is important to know your decision makers and key influencer’s and communicate accordingly…and often.
Develop Social Media Key Performance Indicators
Now that you understand your corporate direction, goals, resources and policies you can begin to develop your social media plan. Our first step was to define our key indicators:
- Number of mentions
- Frequency of mentions
- Audience reach
- Multi-media views
Social Media Plan
Now that we had the goals in place we could develop our plan. Our plan incorporated the following:
- Research, identify and engage with Top 50 influencer’s
- An exclusive online media site
- Online live unveiling
- Community calendars
Influencers – We chose to target 50 influencer’s (bloggers, forums, communities) in a wave approach. Understanding that this would be a six month campaign, we elected a wave approach to build momentum, learn and adjust to what wasn’t working, and work with the always changing landscape of influencer’s. We engaged with a new set of 10-15 influencer’s approximately every 10-14 days. We chose influencer’s based on the following criteria:
- Number of readers
- Number of back-links
- Number of blogs listed on blog roll
- Number of groups linked to blog
- Alternative forms of content (i.e. podcasts/video blogs)
- Post schedule
- Sharing venues (i.e. facebook, twitter, friendfeed, etc)
- Sentiment analysis
- Number of readers in other venues
- Access to writing for other venues (i.e. one of our blog writers was also a writer for a major online magazine)
Online Media Site – Early on we recognized the need to provide our influencer’s exclusive content that was not available to general public. In order to quickly adjust to corporate and blogger requests we also needed a way to update content fast. These two factors led us to developing a wordpress site. This site allowed us to offer content that was easily sharable, could quickly be updated and track back-links/rss feeds.
Online Live Unveiling – There were many John Deere employees who were involved with the planning and execution of this campaign and were interested in seeing the unveiling. In addition, the webisodes had built a strong interest in seeing the tractor completed. In turn, we encouraged the corporate team to consider a live unveiling online. We utilized our Intefy platform and John Deere selected the Ustream Watershed video solution to stream the video live. This live video garnered thousands of views during and within days of the unveiling and was Agwired’s most watched video of 2010! Producing a live unveiling was the campaign highlight and resulted in a significant online response with mentions across the globe.
Community Calendars – As we transitioned from the Big Buck 4020 creation to the Drive Green tour we also transitioned our engagement plan. We continued to support our Top 50 but also began leveraging local community sites to post Drive Green tour information. This tactic allowed us to promote the tour details in a multitude of sites without having to rely on others posting for us. The Drive Green tour experienced a 30%+ increase in foot traffic year over year…never underestimate the power of community sites!
Monitor, Analyze and Report
We learned quite a bit with this campaign but our biggest lesson was the need to report and communicate on a recurring basis. Don’t wait for the client to ask for an update…you should create a report schedule and stick to it. Even if the client seems busy with other priorities and/or doesn’t schedule recurring meetings, you should still send them ongoing reports. It is also important to be clear with definitions, explanations, and strategy/tactic reminders. You live this world everyday…your client doesn’t. Be prepared with the “so-what” and recommendations to improve results. Our monitoring tools included Scout Labs (now Lithium), good ol’ Google Alerts, and quite a bit of manual intervention. We tracked everything in a spreadsheet and summarized our reports in Excel charts and Powerpoint. We also shared our Google Analytics reports we used to track the blogger wordpress site. The more charts we could provide the better! We also discussed corporate goal tracking to understand relationship and to make sure we were on track with the ultimate objectives.
At the End of the Day
- Maintain 1st Quarter market share; Result – Company experienced a 5 point market share increase
- 200,000 Contest Entries; Result – Company experienced 3X the goal: 600,000+ entries
- Increase Drive Green/Dealership traffic; Result – Company experienced 30% increase
Social Media goals:
- 1.25 million audience; Result – 24 million+
- 125 mentions; Result – more than 1,100 mentions across the globe
- 5,000 media views; Result – 135,000 (not including JohnDeere.com media views)
It is hard to summarize a full campaign in one blog post so if you have questions or would like more information feel free to leave us a comment or use our contact form. We would love to hear from you!