Build a social media campaign you can be proud of: The J&B case study

Have you received an e-mail over the last few months asking you to write a “message in a skottel”? Or encouraging you to ruin someone else’s photo via “photobombing”? If so, then you are aware of the J&B Start a Party campaign, an innovative marketing campaign that has harnessed the power of social media to excellent effect.

The campaign runs as a competition where people can win prizes by uploading pictures of themselves and their friends out on the town and celebrating. People vote for their favourite photos and the most popular pictures take home the prizes. The campaign targets young, vibrant, South Africans . Social media is simply where they are and where they can be reached, according to Michael Zylstra, general manager of 10Fold, one of the companies responsible for the campaign, along with OscarTango, JWT and Notabene.

Facebook’s Open Graph has been a key component in making this campaign happen, because of how well the API integrates with third party sites. This level of integration creates a seamless loop, which means that whatever is happening on the Start a Party site is reflected on Facebook.

The creators of the campaign took a strategic decision to engage with the target audience through the medium of photography. Facebook is already one of the world’s largest photo collections. By working with Facebook and photos, the campaign removed a barrier to entry because so many people already have their photos ready and available for upload. Photography also tied in to the nature of the brand. As a brand, J&B is associated with celebration and spontaneity and photography is a natural way to capture and preserve those special moments.

A user-generated component was crucial and central to the campaign. This was achieved by giving people the opportunity to comment on the photos, to share them, and to vote on which pictures they liked. This added level of involvement was crucial in turning the campaign into a viral success that was embraced by the target market. It certainly seems to have worked, judging by the thousands of photographs and comments that have been uploaded to the site from all over the country.

When asked why so many great campaign ideas on Facebook never go anywhere, Zylstra reflected that “often, the barriers to entry are just too high. People are inherently lazy, and if a campaign is just too clever or complex, they won’t go with it. You need to understand the behaviour that is driving social media if you are going to make it work for you.”

Making sense of all the data that is coming back is crucial to your success: “We’re prepared to fail,” he explains, “and we’re tracking continually. Too many campaigns have an Achilles heel, where everyone is so stuck in and committed to making it work that it grinds to a halt. No-one is analysing the data and adapting. Digital provides the ability to course-correct during a campaign to refine and optimise it.”

The company created complex measurement systems, that allowed them to zero in on a group of high-value consumers who were invested in everything that was proposed. Once you have found these connectors, it is important to use them to further the reach of your campaign.

“You need to rally them around you,” Zylstra explains, “because they are the kind of people who create blogs, shoot movies for you, do all sorts of creative tasks that are set and take the brand to a whole new level with user-generated content.”

J&B provided these go-getters with party packs and photo kits and encouraged them to create content. They were also rewarded in small, subtle ways. For instance, professional photographers re-touched their profile pictures and made them look spectacular. “It’s simple really,” says Zylstra, “the brand must reward the kind of behaviour that it wants to encourage.”

This kind of versatile thinking explains why the J&B Start a Party campaign veered away from Twitter. The campaign began by using Twitter but quickly realised it was going nowhere and so they took a decision to focus on what was working, Facebook.

The brand and the agency need to be on the same page when it comes to successful marketing through social media. While social media is in vogue, there is often a lack of insight into the timeframe required and the real costs involved. But it’s crucial for a brand not to engage in conversations that it can’t continue.

Creating conversations makes all the difference in a social media campaign. Zylstra has a hunch that traditional copywriters will soon become obsolete and be replaced by people who can create conversations and keep them alive.

10fold believe that all campaigns fall into one of four categories: It’s either entertainment, philanthropy, utility or commercial. Once you decide what kind of campaign you are running, then you will know how to speak to the people you want to reach and you can make informed choices about when and where to reach them.



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