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Best Practices: How to Combine Events, Social and Content to Increase Buzz

Hitachi Data Systems Gets Big Results With 24-Hour 'Follow the Sun' Campaign

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Hitachi Data Systems, which competes with tech giants including EMC Corp., HP and IBM Corp. in the data-storage space, increased its share of voice to 53% -- its highest share ever -- during a 24-hour campaign this spring around a new product launch.

On April 23, HDS launched a new virtual-storage platform -- the VSP G1000 -- and used a combination of worldwide events, a content hub and social media to introduce the new product.

Sharon Crost
Sharon Crost

"We have some big competitors in our space and they tend to have a big share of voice in social and everywhere," said Sharon Crost, senior manager-social business at HDS. "Our goal was to own the airwaves during a 24-hour period related to the launch."

For its "Defining Moments" campaign, HDS used a "follow-the-sun" approach, rolling out events in seven cities around the world -- Tokyo; Singapore; Dubai; Zaltbommel, Netherlands; Toronto; Sao Paulo; and Mountain View, Calif. -- as the sun moved from east to west.

"We had a huge social presence, supported through a social-content plan, a social campaign and social-media strategy to get out the buzz," Ms. Crost said.

By the end of the day, HDS' share of voice -- defined as share of mentions in social conversations tied to specific keywords -- was larger than that of not just a single competitor, but of all three major competitors combined, she said.

Ms. Crost shared the following best practices for what made the campaign so successful:

1. Develop a social-content plan: HDS partnered with Dynamic Signal, a social-media agency in San Bruno, Calif., to develop newshub.hds.com, a news-oriented content site devoted to the product launch.

The site featured a map showing the global event locations, which users could click on to see what was happening in each region, along with photos, videos and social conversations around the events and topics related to data storage.

2. Arm social ambassadors with content: HDS recruited 100 employees to serve as social ambassadors, provided them with content, and trained them on how to share the content on social channels to promote buzz.

"We gave them a social content plan, which was very simple -- on an Excel spreadsheet -- saying, 'This is what will come out at this time, this group share this and this group share that,' and they were ready to go," Ms. Crost said.

3. Appoint a social lead in each region: HDS appointed a social "champion" in each region to lead social sharing and keep the conversations going.

For example, Ms. Crost -- who was the social lead in Singapore -- took pictures at the regional event, shared them on social channels including Facebook and Twitter, and kept the buzz going.

4. Create socially sharable content: HDS created a lot of content on newshub that could be easily shared, such as blogs, news articles, photos and Slideshare presentations. At the bottom of each piece of content were buttons to share on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

5. Don't make it all about you: Ms. Crost said about 20% of the content was about HDS, and the rest included articles by experts; blogs by industry influencers; and social conversations around topics of interest to the tech community, such as mobility, security and cloud computing.

6. Use notifications to help people share content: HDS built notifications into its content platform, which alerted employees and influencers about new content to share, through email or meeting notifications on their desktops and smartphones.

"People are most likely to share something if they have a call to action," Ms. Crost said.

By employing these tactics, HDS achieved what Ms. Crost described as "probably our best campaign to date. We were never the share of voice -- ever. We started trending in those terms (#cloud, #virtualization, #cloudinfrastructure), and we started taking over in share of voice. These were not our own terms, but industry-related terms."

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