Crowdsourcing: A new kind of social media marketing campaign

Adam Skikne recently noted in a column, that social media marketing tools are not really like “the intrusive, traditional forms of advertising that have continuously interrupted our daily lives since the 1950’s”. He contends that they are “permission marketing,” in that, be it by “Liking” a brand’s Facebook page or by “following” it on Twitter, you allow it to “interrupt” your daily life.

However, a social media marketing campaign, when properly executed can and should be something far more interactive than these more passive examples.

We all know of T-Mobile’s “Life Is For Sharing” campaign as an example of a well executed social media campaign. At the end of the day, beyond maybe sharing the link to the videos, this has been a passive campaign however.

On the other hand, the campaigns featured below, whilst retaining regular elements of social media, ask and engage the audience to become part of the campaign. Essentially, they put the social back into social media marketing campaign.

Below are four interesting crowdsourcing campaigns and as you read, you will see why they are different:

Toyota Ideas For Good
In an age where CO2 emissions, carbon-taxes and global warming have captured the global consciousness, producers of motor vehicles have not had it easy. Right up there with other big-business they are quite often seen as the Earth’s number one enemy. Not daunted by this, the world’s largest car-maker, Toyota started the “Toyota Ideas For Good” project. The premise was simple, people had to think of and submit new uses for five technologies by Toyota which could be used for good – which would affect the world positively. The response was overwhelming. Over 9000 ideas were submitted and mentions on websites and blogs of the campaign exceeded 220 000.

Pepsi Refresh Project
Like any multimillion-dollar corporation, Pepsi has seen community-involvement as an integral part of their business. However, last year in a stroke of genius, they acted on that belief and fused it with a social media marketing campaign, the Refresh project. By crowdsourcing for customers’ favourite ideas for community-involvement, such as improving parks and playgrounds, schools, building foster homes etc. Pepsi was able to generate 42-million votes, and give away more than US$1.3-million in grants each month the project ran. The project was so successful that this year, they took it global.

Mob the Rainbow
This campaign by American candy brand, Skittles, attempted to do something that all these campaigns do — strengthen the connection between a consumer and the brands they use. “Mob the rainbow“, took that campaign to where the connection is weakest — Facebook — where often a user will “Like” a brand and that will be the end of that interaction. This campaign encompassed most of the social-networks by calling on fans of Skittles to vote, support and choose which activity done through by Skittles, allowed fans to become invested in the brand through user participation and user-generated content. However, in doing so, it also managed to accomplish some good, for the community as well.

The Aviva Community Fund
The Canadian division of insurance group, Aviva, like the other brands listed here, asked, rather than told, it’s customers what they were going to do for community upliftment, and so created the Community Fund. Customers got to decide — via social networks and media — what projects Aviva would fund in the customers own communities. Through social media interaction around this “community fund” Aviva was able to foster a stronger connection between its brand and its customers. The fund was such a success in its first year of running, that Aviva decided to make it an annual programme.

These four campaigns, along with four others, were nominated in this year’s Bees Awards for “Best Engagement with Customers,” but the reason these campaigns are highlighted as opposed to the other four nominees is here is because these social media campaigns made a change in their communities, whilst also providing value to their brands.

Gustav Praekelt, at last week’s NetProphet conference in Cape Town, emphasised the need for “social businesses” — businesses which are out to make a social impact.

These are not exact examples of what he spoke of, however they certainly go to show that with just a little bit of innovation, a business can use social media and social networks as a means of building its brand in a larger context but to its customers mainly whilst also having a social impact.

If there’s one word which connects all these campaigns, it’s crowdsourcing: engaging their customers to find out what it was they wanted done by their favourite brands.



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