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Novell 'hashes' out new campaign

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One of the challenges of social media marketing is that it really shouldn't look like marketing at all.

So what should it look like?

One example is technology vendor Novell's new Twitter campaign. Created by PJA Advertising+Marketing, Cambridge, Mass., the effort includes a Twitter-driven microsite and application for Novell called Hash-It-Out (www.hash-it-out.com). On Twitter, the hash or # symbol, is used as a category marker, making it easy for users to designate and find posts and conversations by topic.

For the Hash-it-Out site, which went live about two weeks ago, PJA created a sort of compare-and-contrast ticker board that lets users check comments on topics such as: #iphone vs. #blackberry, #yankees vs. #redsox or #windows vs. #linux. The site also lets visitors check the most-heated or active discussions.

The only Novell branding is a small “brought to you” graphic that refers to the vendor’s current brand campaign “Making IT Work As One.” The hash category comparison approach is also a nod to that theme, with the idea that the site brings two topics together to see how they “get along”—analogous to the way Novell helps disparate IT systems work together.

Novell is counting on adding social media to the mix of tomorrow’s integrated marketing efforts. “We don’t believe social networking/social media should be treated as a separate silo, but as part of an integrated branding and communications program,” said Phil Juliano, VP-corporate branding and communications at Novell.

“Social channels are really critical for our clients,” said Mike O’Toole, PJA president. “It’s not just about building a cool app but building a presence and content on social media that the audience cares about and connects with.”

Just so, said Juliano, adding this thought: “We’re very pleased with the traction we are getting so far with our participation in social media—whether it’s blogs, Twitter or new, contextual and focused ways of executing paid advertising. It all works towards one goal:, to promote an integrated, consistent and, we hope,- relevant brand and messaging to our customers.”

In addition to being part of a larger brand campaign, the Twitter microsite explicitly links to a Novell Webcast site. And thanks to that link, Novell can measure the Twitter campaign’s success by monitoring how many webcast views it can drive, said PJA Creative Director Aaron DaSilva.

Hash-it-Out is the second social media campaign PJA has done for Novell. Two years ago, it created a mashup Google Maps application that let Linux developers indicate where they were from and how they’d contributed to the development of a Novell open-source software product.

One objective of the new Twitter campaign is to see just how far, and how virally, Novell messaging can propagate without paid, traditional advertising. The Hash-It-Out microsite, the webcasts, staff tweets and retweets of the content—not to mention an upcoming PR outreach to promote the site—are designed to create a high level of buzz and engagement and to support Novell’s larger brand message, DaSilva said.

“Hash-It-Out is a cool, and interesting and engaging app in its own right,” he said. “But it only works for Novell if it’s part of a larger marketing and social media program and fits within its overall brand strategy.”

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