Cisco, American Express take ‘People's Choice' honors in ‘BtoB's' Social Media Marketing Awards

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New York—Cisco Systems and American Express Co. were the headliners at BtoB's inaugural Social Media Marketing Awards ceremony held here May 20. Both topped their categories in People's Choice Awards balloting as the top b-to-b social media marketing programs of the year, joining a lineup of award winners in a variety of social media segments.

Cisco, the People's Choice honoree in the tech companies category, was recognized for its myPlanNet campaign, a downloadable simulation game in which participants played the roll of a CEO solving business challenges using Cisco products. The project featured a Facebook page that drew more than 55,000 fans, and enjoyed international participation.

Cisco launched its myPlanNet campaign using traditional channels, in particular live events, according to Petra Neiger, program manager, but thereafter the program took on “a life of its own” through Facebook, Twitter posts and viral exposure via other gaming sites, she said.

“The game site was reposted by third parties on their own sites, and we even began seeing posts about the game translated on overseas Facebook pages, sometimes in languages we weren't even aware of,” Neiger said. “And the competition between certain countries was fierce.”

Neiger said the major challenge of the campaign, and of social media marketing in general, is staying focused.

“It's easy to get into social media, but you must keep the momentum going,” she said. “Be patient. Social media takes time, but it will pay off for you.”

American Express took home the People's Choice award in the nontech companies category for its OPEN Forum small-business initiative. In keeping with OPEN's commitment to “news you can use,” the campaign served as a source of small-business information, networking and engagement to build the brand and drive small-business owners to the site.

“Our immediate metrics were to drive traffic to the site, increase the frequency of visits and the length of individual stays, to boost retweets and create buzz,” said Mary Ann Fitzmaurice Reilly, senior VP-partnerships and new-business development at American Express Co. “But our ultimate goal was to help small businesses grow, so we're really looking at long-term results.”

Amex's OPEN Forum was inspired by numerous requests by small-business owners for more live networking opportunities, Reilly said. The online portal scaled this upward dramatically, she said, using in the process all the key social media platforms.

The company engaged 150 bloggers to write regularly about the campaign on both the OPEN portal and their own sites; created a “Connectodex” feature for members to establish an online promotional description of their companies; and aggregated 1,000 of the most active business tweeters as an additional resource for its registrants, among numerous features.

The other People's Choice finalists in the nontech category were: CME Group for its Twitter campaign and Emerson Process Management for its blogs. The other tech finalists were: Kinaxis and Microsoft Corp. for their integrated social marketing campaigns and Hewlett-Packard Co. for its viral video program.

The companies honored during the awards presentation were:

Category: Integrated (technology companies)

  • Winner: Cisco Systems (Agency: Somnio, Phame Factory, Austin, Texas)
  • Winner: Kinaxis, Supply Chain Experts: Learn, Laugh, Share and Connect. (Agency: Enquiro, Kelowna, British Columbia)
  • Runner-up: Microsoft Corp, Microsoft joint launch, a.k.a. Feeds (Agency: Wunderman Network)

Category: Integrated (nontech companies)

  • Winner: American Express Co. (Agency: Crispin, Porter+Bogusky, Boulder, Colo.)
  • Runner-up: Hanley Wood, Builder Concept Home 2010 (Agency: Decision Counsel, Berkeley, Calif.)

Category: Twitter

  • Winner: CME Group
  • Runner-up: HubSpot Inc.

Category: LinkedIn

  • Winner: Arketi Group
  • Runner-up: Reed Business Information

Category: Facebook

  • Winner: Cisco Systems
  • Runner-up: Deloitte (Agency: Keiler & Co., Farmington, Conn.)

Category: Viral video

  • Winner: Hewlett-Packard Co. (Agency: Doremus, San Francisco)
  • Runner-up: Cisco Systems (Agency: Ogilvy RedWorks, New York)

Category: Blog

  • Winner: Emerson Process Management
  • Runner-up: HubSpot Inc.

Category: Closed community

  • Winner: LexisNexis
  • Runner-up: HubSpot Inc.
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