Advertising Week

The Rewards and Pitfalls of Global Social-Media Campaigns

At Advertising Week Session, Starbucks, KLM Lauded for Creativity

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Social media is a key part of any marketing campaign these days, but a major challenge with the channel is achieving wide reach while still crafting appropriate messaging by region or country, executives speaking Thursday at Advertising Week said.

In a session dedicated to the topic of global social-media campaigns, Suzie Reider, head of advertising sales at YouTube, as well as execs from agencies and other social media companies, explained challenges they've encountered, like when a product is utilized differently in various countries, for example.

They also concurred on the importance of having vendors -- in social-media listening, analytics and content management -- that work well together. The panel also discussed the need for social media to be integrated into global marketing strategy at the outset of a campaign, rather than being treated as an add-on, and observed that social doesn't necessarily need to factor into every campaign, depending on the product and the audience a marketer is looking to reach.

Asked to identify their favorite global social-media campaigns, the group pointed to a range of work.

Patricia Gottesman, CEO of the social-media monitoring and analysis company Crimson Hexagon, pointed out a social-media campaign in China that was aimed at getting people out of their homes and into a Starbucks using discount coupons as bait. (The translation of the campaign's name is "Come Meet Me in Starbucks.") The campaign was reported to be a success, which impressed Ms. Gottesman because of the different cultural attitude in China towards discounting. She thought the campaign worked because of its insightful messaging strategy.

Louise Doorn of social-media agency Big Fuel pointed out the interesting experiments Dutch airline KLM has tried in the past year and a half. It had a program in November 2010 in which customers could check into the Amsterdam airport on Foursquare and flight attendants would track down that person's Twitter handle and glean their interests by reading it. Then the customer was given a gift based on what their likes were presumed to be at the gate during boarding. Ms. Doorn observed that what she found compelling about the campaign is that it was inherently social, and also that it aimed to make KLM's service a differentiator in an industry where customers are perennially unhappy with customer service. She noted that the campaign was a big viral success, with a million impressions on Twitter.

A second KLM campaign touted by Ms. Doorn was one that coincided with the launch of a Miami-to-Amsterdam flight route in March of this year. Several prominent Dutch DJs and musicians tweeted the airline to request that they move up the launch by a week to coincide with a music festival in Miami that they wanted to attend. The airline responded by telling them it was doable if they could fill up the flight, which they managed to do.

Michael Scissons, president of social-media management company Syncapse, said he's also been impressed by what Starbucks has done in terms of launching global campaigns while tailoring the messaging to localities. "When they want to put a new product out or a new message, they can do that to 30 million people without media cost," he said.

Coca-Cola social media executive J.D. Doughney touted one of his own company's campaigns, in which Coke partnered with Maroon 5 in an effort to reach a teen audience earlier this year. They orchestrated a 24-hour session where fans across the globe could tweet in to give Maroon 5 inspiration for a song that the band had to have ready to launch at the end of the day.

"There's an art and a science to figuring out how to create compelling content that people engage with at first individually, then share virally," he said.

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