Charleston Parks Conservancy
In 2007, when philanthropist Darla Moore created the Charleston Parks Conservancy, a public relations/website design company called Brains on Fire was hired to engage the community in the new organization and its mission. Brains on Fire set up a website that would create an identity for CPC and an online community site. They wanted to “grow roots” in the community, so the company helped CPC (Charleston Parks Conservancy) established the Park Angels campaign, designed to recruit promoters/supporters who would take a special interest and ownership in Charleston’s parks. Website visitors could link to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and Foursquare.
Employing these online social media platforms enabled CPC to achieve its offline mission of increasing “the quality, awareness, appreciation and usage of Charleston’s parks and greenspaces” (mission statement on their website). Their online presence, through Foursquare, is managed by Step Ahead Inc, a company that helps organizations and businesses maximize their online and offline visibility through integration.
CPC’s website reveals Step Ahead’s goals:
• Increase awareness about the little and unknown parks in the Charleston County
• Encourage more people to use their parks
• Find new Twitter followers who enjoy parks
• Increase exposure of the Conservancy to people who love parks.
• Reward these people for using their parks
• Increase Park Angels and volunteers at garden in the park events by posting events at related parks and nearby venues
A visit to CPC’s website leads me to believe this campaign has been quite successful. The aforementioned social media platforms connect and direct people to CPC and its myriad of educational and community involvement offerings. They offer email and RSS feed subscriptions, and their “Garden in the Park” pages have a ShareThis icon to link to email, Facebook, Twitter, Google, GoogleBuzz, Yahoo, Blogger, MySpace, Digg, StumbleUpon, Messenger. CPC also has a geocaching initiative, a treasure-hunting game played with a GPS device.
All of these online connections lead visitors to CPC’s website, where they can find blogs, sign up for classes, read articles and blogs, watch videos, enter contests, post comments, and find out about community events CPC sponsors, such as “Garden in the Park” events, a “Green and Lean 5K,” and a star-gazing event. I noted 1231 “Likes” on their Facebook page and 4767 Tweets on July 20, 2011.
The seeds CPC planted with social media efforts seem to have yielded a terrific harvest and advanced their efforts toward meeting their goals, as evidenced on their website. Step Ahead highlights these results as of August 2010:
• 305 Friends
• On average 40 parks have Mayors at a given time.
• Four parks have additional geocaching tips on their Foursquare page.
• Larger parks such as Marion Square have more than 300 check-ins with many check-ins from people visiting the Charleston area.
• Great feedback from the community about the tips they see when visiting parks.
How could they have improved? Being a social media newbie, that’s a perplexing question for me. I couldn’t find the downloadable walking iPod tours that StepAhead mentioned would be created. And I noticed that when clicking the FourSquare icon directs you to a “We couldn’t find the page you’re looking for” window. That’s not good!
It would be interesting to see the before/after data to quantify the effectiveness of the campaign. Here are the criteria Brains on Fire established by which to measure their success:
• Park Angel Growth – new, total, neighborhoods
• Projects / Community Engagement (offline) – projects, programs, S.E.P.M.
• Fundraising Growth – donors, amount
• Site Activity – Google metrics: unique visits, average time spent on site
• Ideas Generated by the Community – generated, adopted
• CPC / Park Angel Awareness – online, offline, sentiment, search engine, publications
* Competitively engage with the consumer segment to which they market, creating a passionate network of 13-20 year old readers through online tools and incentives tailored to their cultural trends.
* Effectively expose first-time authors and innovatively connect them with their target market group.
* Increase sales of Random House teen titles by transforming marketing methods.
In 2007, Random House, #1 publisher of books for children and teens, awakened to the smelling salts fact that their outdated traditional advertising was in need of renovation, and they hired a company that was pioneering word-of-mouth social media marketing. Affinitive Consulting set out to socialize the reading experience for Random House. They created the Random Buzzers platform to engage and connect its target teen audience, encouraging ongoing dialogue between the publisher/authors and readers to engender consumer networking.
Their campaign allowed readers connecting to Random Buzzers to earn “Buzz Bucks” for rewards, receive advance copies of books, write reviews and blog, submit creative work for exposure in galleries, enter contests and book giveaways, answer quizzes and polls, learn about upcoming author events, and connect with other teen readers, as well as stay current with email newsletters. A Random Buzzers iPhone app now enables the experience to be with readers 24/7. The community of readers connects through Facebook, Twitter, and ShareThis which links to email, Google, GoogleBuzz, Yahoo, Blogger, MySpace, Digg, StumbleUpon, and Messenger as well as Facebook and Twitter.
Random Buzzers Results:
• 60,000+ Members
• 14,000+ pieces of user-generated content
• 4,000+ book reviews
• 3,000+ author questions submitted
• 90,000+ consumers reached by offline word of mouth
• 88% of members indicated Random Buzzers has improved their perception of Random House
• 79% of members indicated Random Buzzers has increased their likelihood to purchase from Random House in the future
WINNER – GOLD Word of Mouth Marketing Association “WOMMY” Award and GOLD Davey Awards
I noted 1731 “Likes” on their Facebook page and 2420 Tweets on July 20, 2011.
The statistics spell success! Clearly, Random House has effectively engaged their readers through social media. It would be interesting to know the impact it has had on their sales. My guess is their CEO is smiling as he clicks from Facebook to his online banking page!
How could they have been more successful? Random Buzzers has a YouTube channel, but I didn’t know that until I did a YouTube search for them. It’s for members only. I think a YouTube link on their site (not requiring membership) would widen the audience and ultimately increase sales. The dusty days of yesteryear are evolving as fingers aren’t just flipping book pages…they’re flying across keyboards!
Journey to Atlantis campaign goals:
• Build relationships with the coaster community
• Build awareness of Journey to Atlantis
• Assist in driving visitation to the park
In 2007, SeaWorld San Antonio hired Kami Huyse to launch the Journey to Atlantis campaign. With her social media bag of tricks, Huyse:
• Reached out to rollercoaster enthusiasts and bloggers and invited some of them to the Journey to Atlantis media event held the day prior to the ride’s public launch.
• Made Journey to Atlantis content available on YouTube, Flickr and other social media websites.
• Created a micro-site for Journey to Atlantis, which linked to the content on social media websites.
Coaster enthusiast blogs and forums were identified as the VIP target audience for the campaign and a website, an extension of SeaWorld San Antonio’s main website, was designed tailored to the thrill seekers. Videos were created and dispersed through YouTube, Flickr, and Veoh. Among the first to ride Journey to Atlantis were bloggers and coaster enthusiasts SeaWorld fished from the pool of media connections and catered to. Success was measured by the number of links the campaign received from other websites and comments posted from YouTube video views.
Results (1 year later):
* Almost half of the coaster websites covered news of the new ride
* 50 links were established to new websites
* Cost per impression for the campaign: $0.22 versus $1.00 for television
* Visitors brought in by social media represented over $2.6 million in revenue
* Thousands of YouTube and Flickr downloads
* The #1 answer on visitor exit surveys to “Where did you hear about the ride?”
was “On the Internet.”
* 200,000 SeaWorld San Antonio visitors came in a 2-month period because of
the Journey to Atlantis campaign (data by Huyse)
* Almost 40% of visitors were brought in by social media
I noted that SeaWorld San Antonio has 37,982 “Likes” on their Facebook page and 5148 followers/3673 Tweets on July 20, 2011. That is a splash of success!
The results are challenged on an Ecoconsultancy blog that challenges that they could be skewed because they may be successful as much by the opening of the new ride as the social media campaign designed to market SeaWorld in general. Incommetrics, the company that conducted the visitor exit survey research, exposed that the campaign only succeeded in one of its 3 goals: increase park visitatation. I disagree.
How could they have improved their campaign? Twitter might have helped them make a bigger splash with the Journey to Atlantis campaign. Also, they might have enlarged their initial target group beyond the coaster lovers; adrenaline junkies are likely on more than coaster sites.
SeaWorld fans can keep their toes in the water 24/7 with the SeaWorld iPhone app. In regard to jumping into the expansive ocean of social media, SeaWorld’s Journey to Atlantis campaign begs the quote, “Come on in…the water’s great!”
A look at all three campaigns reveals that they are effectively reaching communities. The Charleston Parks Conservancy and the SeaWorld San Antonio efforts targeted localized communities, one nonprofit and one for profit, respectively. The Random Buzzers campaign’s scope is vast and without geographic limits. The 3 campaigns share the Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube connections with the people they want to reach. These are elements essential to any social media campaign.
But there is no one-size-fits-all with social media, so the kind of presence a business or organization chooses to design and implement online depends on its nature, goals, and target audience. Social media is personalizing every contact being made online and the web is growing increasingly connected and complex. It appears that there is money to be made those who know how to create the right links and get their online followers to do their advertising for them!