Cisco Systems Program: Cisco myPlanNet Game
Agency: Somnio, Phame Factory, Austin, Texas
Why we chose it: The excitement about virtual worlds has died down considerably from a couple of years ago, but Cisco Systems has remained one of the technology's most visible supporters. With myPlanNet, the company demonstrates that simulations/virtual world games can not only be educational and fun but also relevant to business customers. Cisco showed considerable innovation in choosing this platform to reach a new generation of IT professionals who have grown up with joysticks in their hands. The idea of applying a simulation format to a story that is relevant to its audience's careers is ingenious. By watching players' activities and comments, the company will learn much about what engages these young professionals and how they will adapt principles like game-playing and simulation to their learning process. From an integrated campaign perspective, this project combined an impressive array of social destinations, including a Facebook page that drew more than 25,000 fans. Cisco has been a standout among b2b companies in building a major presence on Facebook, adopting video in nearly all dimensions of its marketing programs and applying Twitter strategically within its product and brand campaigns. Cisco brings these tools together with myPlanNet and the results—in the form of more than 23,000 downloads and extensive media attention—attest to the success of this remarkable b2b experiment. Cisco would have won points for innovation alone, but the results attest to the considerable business value of thinking outside the b2b box.
Kinaxis Program: Supply Chain Experts: Learn, Laugh, Share and Connect
Agency: Enquiro, Kelowna, British Columbia
Why we chose it: Kinaxis, an Ottawa-based supply-chain software company, hoped to drive awareness and double its leads in 2009 compared with 2008. Kinaxis began experimenting with social media to accomplish these goals. Using Enquiro (for search engine optimization and marketing help) and Forrester Research (for research into the field), Kinaxis carefully planned an integrated social media program that lived up to the hype. The company started a blog, built a community for supply chain management, participated in LinkedIn and used Twitter. The company's blog is 21st Century Supply Chain. Its posts, written by Kinaxis executives and employees, are also posted on the community Kinaxis built, the Supply Chain Expert Community. The company said it has four approaches on this community site: Learn, Laugh, Share, Connect. The “laugh” segment is particularly intriguing. Kinaxis developed online videos, such as “The Late Late Supply Show,” created by Second City. Recently, the company debuted an online series called “Suitemates,” which satirizes the practices of big enterprise software companies. The series stars Kevin Pollak, a comedian and actor who had a role in “The Usual Suspects,” as a software executive jailed for his company's dishonest practices. All of this is working: Kinaxis said it has experienced a more than threefold increase in leads. In addition, registered community members, who numbered 1,615 in February, reached 2,223 in early April.
Microsoft Corp. Program: Microsoft joint launch, a.k.a. Feeds
Agency: Wunderman Network
Why we chose it: Sometimes, simple ideas are the best. Such is the case
with Feeds, an application of RSS technology that has delivered more than 10,000
sales leads to Microsoft Corp. while providing a valuable informational resource
for customers and prospects. It is a striking example of how a company is letting
open access to the conversations surrounding its market drive sales, even if
those conversations aren't unanimously positive. The concept behind Feeds is
simply to tap into the existing stream of user commentary about Microsoft products
and to organize that information in a way that delivers structured insight to
readers. The interface is innovative, but doesn't sacrifice ease of use for
the sake of being cool. Users can easily join the conversation as well as monitor
what's being said. They can also instantly share insights with each other. We
were impressed by the openness that Microsoft exhibited in deploying Feeds.
All kinds of comments are there, including some that are less than complimentary
about the company's products. No matter. True to its slogan of “Because it's
everybody's business,” Microsoft has made no effort to censor or sugar-coat
the content in Feeds. Instead, it delivers an honest and current account of
what people are saying. This demonstrates confidence in its content and
direction as well as openness to hearing feedback from its markets. The fact
that Feeds has driven $11 million in revenue is a byproduct—and a very encouraging
one—of an impressive experiment in corporate transparency.
American Express Co. Program: American Express OPEN—OPEN Forum
Agencies: Crispin, Porter+Bogusky, Boulder, Colo.; Federated Media, New York; Digitas, New York
Why we chose it: American Express Co. is one of the few, savvy companies seizing the opportunity to fill the trust gap left behind by the rapid decline of mainstream media. With its OPEN Forum, AmEx is moving to serve its small-business customers with a resource that is smart, engaging and tightly focused on the unique needs of those clients. OPEN Forum isn't just a means to deliver a message: It's a media property that delivers the kind of value that people once invested in subscription magazines to obtain. OPEN Forum goes beyond the magazine metaphor, though. Features such as the site's Connectodex leverage the Internet's ability to put business owners in touch with others who can help them. AmEx has also forged partnerships with mainstream media and bloggers to deliver a wide array of useful information at very low cost. Its value is in the aggregation and syndication of such information. This is a skill that marketers will increasingly need to adopt if they are to appeal to customers struggling with the new reality of information overload. OPEN Forum's more than 400% jump in unique visitors and 300% increase in page views attest to the value of the concept. AmEx marketers and their agency partners have leveraged every appropriate form of social media with great success to raise awareness. The success of OPEN Forum attests to the new reality of marketing: Content really is king.
Hanley Wood Program: Builder Concept Home 2010
Agency: Decision Counsel, Berkeley, Calif.
Why we chose it: For the 2010 International Builder Show in Las Vegas, agency
Decision Counsel built a rich media resource for b2b publisher Hanley Wood's
Builder Online that championed the latest innovations in green building, eco-friendly
materials and space management. Inside the Builder Concept Home, a virtual tour
blends 3-D animations, video and rich media. As users tour the home, they are
met with product information as well as videos on topics such as green building
and the construction market as well as specific features of the house itself.
In addition, a video library is available from any point during the tour. In
little more than a month, the program signed up more than 11,250 registered
users, exceeding Builder Online's goal of registering 10,000 qualified leads
in six months. Decision Counsel's digital Concept Home raises the bar for companies
looking to present their designs through interactive media.
CME Group Program: CME Group: Twitter
Why we chose it: Futures and options exchange CME Group was the standout in the Twitter category for the sheer magnitude of its reach. Most major consumer brands would be delighted to have a Twitter following of 750,000 people; for a b2b brand, such reach is astonishing. CME has achieved this success by practicing the basics: It listens, responds, educates and refers. Its Twitter stream is a constantly flowing river of useful information, particularly in a market that's been panicked by the crisis in the banking sector. CME Group understood from the beginning that Twitter is about a multifaceted conversation between its staff of experts and constituents. Its adoption of the HootSuite Twitter platform demonstrates that it is serious about creating a unified and consistent presence in social media. This category had some very good entrants, but none approached the magnitude of success that CME Group has achieved in a b2b market.
HubSpot Inc. Program: @HubSpot on Twitter
Why we chose it: When
you publish a monitoring tool called Twitter Grader, you had better be an expert
at using Twitter to its greatest advantage. That's not a problem for HubSpot
Inc. While its follower base isn't the largest among social media thought leaders,
its creativity in leveraging all the features of Twitter and the inventions
of the Twitter community made this entry a standout. Among the innovations that
impressed us were the use of Twitter Lists to promote members of the HubSpot
team, the inclusion of Twitter in a welcome message package to new blog subscribers
and HubSpot's “State of the Twittersphere” reports, which position the company
as a thought leader through creative use of the statistics it is already gathering
as a byproduct of the Twitter Grader service. Other b2b businesses may have
collected more followers than HubSpot, but few have demonstrated the creativity
that this company has brought to its task.
Arketi Group Program: Arketi Group's link in the b2b community
Agency: Arketi Group, Atlanta
Why we chose it: Marketing company Arketi Group set itself the task of creating the first b2b marketing group on LinkedIn as well as to execute an active engagement program for the group throughout 2009. Targeting technology executives, Arketi recruited members by adding a LinkedIn page on its Web site; inserted calls to action in its monthly e-newsletter, including the group's link in employee email footers; and reached out to specific marketers with personalized email invitations. Arketi also distributed a special e-newsletter, named “Synergy,” for group members that featured industry information, events and news. Since the LinkedIn group itself was not branded, Arketi added to “Synergy” a thought leadership section, dubbed “Thoughts From the Sponsor,” to introduce members to Arketi. To date, the group has 3,881 members from several countries—many of whom provide content suggestions for the newsletter—and more than 500 ongoing discussions. Media attention has been strong, and the company has been invited to speak about social marketing before industry associations.
Reed Business Information Program: To enrich selected Control Engineering North American edition articles with LinkedIn- generated content
Why we chose
it: B2b magazine Control Engineering wanted to expand the reach
and relevance of the educational content generated by its writers and editors.
This demographic, the magazine found, already was on LinkedIn but was not being
served by a relevant group. Instead of a fan page, Control Engineering
created a community for engineers, called Automation & Control Engineering,
that focuses on members' needs for specific expertise and in-depth advice, both
from peer interaction and easy access to editorial content. More than 100 deep
discussions have been posted by consultants, engineers and industry vendor representatives,
as well as editors, with the most interesting gathered and presented as articles
in the print publication, which expanded the discussion further and encouraged
print subscribers to find and use the group. As of Feb.1, the group had 4,949
Cisco Systems Program: Cisco's Facebook fan page
Why we chose it: Cisco Systems launched its Facebook fan page with the initial goal of aggregating the company's social media channels in one place. That goal was quickly accomplished. The company's Facebook page offers Flickr, Twitter, YouTube, corporate blogs and RSS news feeds from one interface. In addition, Cisco said, it wanted to create “a unique experience for the fans.” And you better believe that Cisco has fans. The company debuted its new, integrated Facebook fan page on Aug.3, 2009. At that point, there were 12,460 fans. Today, the company reports more than 37,000 fans. Cisco populates its Facebook page with one to four pieces of content daily. It has two main community managers who are responsible for posting content and monitoring feedback. Sometimes, it's not surprising what gets a reaction. A video blog from Cisco Chairman-CEO John Chambers on the company's 25th anniversary generated a lot of chatter. But so did a photo of a jack-o'-lantern carved with a Cisco logo. The Halloween photo garnered 383 likes and 52 comments.
Deloitte Program: Deloitte global fan page
Agency: Keiler & Co., Farmington, Conn.
Why we chose it: Deloitte wanted to better incorporate social media into
its brand-building strategy to shift the public perception of old accounting
firms as static and using outdated methods to reach the public. The company,
with 25,000 aggregated fans, saw a value-added opportunity in Facebook and pounced,
designing a globally aligned approach to its Facebook fan page that united the
Deloitte-branded pages with a consistent look and feel. But it didn't stop there.
The global fan page design itself went through a complete overhaul, incorporating
improvements in the technology and design of the page to enhance flow and bolster
internal resources to monitor content and reply to incoming comments. Within
the first two weeks post-refresh, the company added 2,000 new fans, exceeding
15,000 total fans. Deloitte conveyed a commitment to embracing the trends in
social media through its Facebook page in the right way: by redefining a strategy
to better serve consumers' needs.
Hewlett-Packard Co. Program: HP EB IB Flex viral videos
Agency: Doremus, San Francisco
Why we chose it: To promote renewals and extensions of the HP Care Pack service agreements, Hewlett-Packard Co. and Doremus San Francisco produced a series of three online viral videos. The videos depict an everyman IT guy named Alex and his interaction with a computer with a voice reminiscent of HAL from “2001: A Space Odyssey.” In fact, in one video, Alex has an interaction with a printer that is identified as HAL_1000. This copier prints off playful notes to Alex asking that he renew the HP Care Pack service. After saying that these notes are perhaps part of a dream, the printer suggests Alex test the theory by slapping himself, which he then proceeds to do. “Haha,” the next note reads. “I made you slap yourself.” The other videos are similar. In one, Alex has to break it to a computer ready to retire that he's going to be kept online for a few more years due to the economy—and the HP Care Pack. In another, a computer tells Alex to go home and stop worrying because the service agreement has been renewed. “Thanks, scary disembodied voice,” Alex replies.
Cisco Systems Program: Cisco Borderless Networks Videos
Agency:Ogilvy RedWorks, New York
Why we chose it: To support the introduction of its next-generation network
architecture, Cisco Systems used three viral online videos to drive traffic
to a virtual launch event. To demonstrate the possibilities represented by Cisco's
new routing, switching and security, the videos—produced by Ogilvy RedWorks,
New York—playfully and engagingly depict futuristic scenarios enabled by the
Web. In one video, “The Future of Healthcare,” doctors in a variety of remote
locations are logged in to view a CT scan of a young boy's innards. They finally
agree on the model of car he's swallowed: It's a Jaguar. In another video, “The
Future of Education,” a teacher is revealed to be an astronaut conducting his
class from space. Even from miles above the classroom, he can still spot a student
about to toss a paper airplane. And in “The Future of Shopping,” a woman moves
clothes back and forth on a virtual rack in a boutique as she makes her selection.
This video was viewed more than 1.5 million times, according to Cisco. To find
answers to the question posed by the videos—“What could your business do with
borderless networks?”—users were directed to the virtual launch, which attracted
about 6,000 visitors.
Emerson Process Management Program: Emerson Process Experts
Why we chose it: If there were a lifetime achieve-ment award for b2b social media marketing, Emerson Process Experts would be in the Hall of Fame. Jim Cahill started this blog in early 2006, when few people even knew what a blog was. He's kept at it over the years, adhering to a rigorous update schedule and adding new features like a Twitter feed and Flickr photo gallery as those platforms became available. Emerson Process Experts is notable for its singularity. In a market in which few competitors have adopted any form of social media at all, Cahill has been years ahead of his competitors. His topics are the kind of meat-and-potatoes technology discussions that matter to Emerson customers. These people don't make many buying decisions, but when they do make them, the price tags are in the millions of dollars. And thanks to Jim Cahill, when they go to Google to look for “Process Control,” Emerson is right there at the top.
Program: HubSpot's Inbound Internet Marketing blog
Why we chose it: The Web is packed with high-quality blogs about search
optimization and Internet marketing, and the quality of content available on
them is very high. In that environment, HubSpot Inc.'s achievements in creating
a top-tier online presence are all the more remarkable. HubSpot does just about
everything right with its blog. It updates frequently, optimizes for strategic
keywords, recruits interesting and provocative contributors and promotes its
content through every available channel. But it also goes further: The blog
is a container for the other kinds of free content HubSpot produces. It provides
a central focal point from which visitors can access all the company's rich
content. Its record of generating nearly 800 leads and 100,000 visitors per
month attests to its strategic value. HubSpot epitomizes the b2b principle
of “give to get,” and its results demonstrate just how powerful generosity and
thought leadership can be.
LexisNexis Program: Creating the premier online professional network for lawyers
Why we chose it: LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier, was challenged with creating enhanced value for its Martindale-Hubbell directory of legal professionals, which it has been publishing for 140 years. In order to remain relevant in the digital world, LexisNexis knew it needed to create a dynamic online community where legal professionals could connect with their peers and share information in a trusted, private environment. After conducting extensive research with its network of attorneys and legal professionals, LexisNexis last April launched Martindale-Hubbell Connected, a private online community. The community is loaded with resources for legal professionals, including access to court records, market research and online polls, as well as networking tools such as blogs, forums and groups. LexisNexis promoted the community through meetings with corporate lawyers, outreach to media and analysts, and through social networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook. The network has grown from 300 members to more than 30,000.
HubSpot Inc. Program: Inbound Marketing.com
Why we chose it: HubSpot Inc., which develops inbound marketing software, wanted to generate leads and create buzz for its products, as well as develop brand evangelists. So last May it introduced a program around InboundMarketing.com, its online community of marketing professionals. The centerpiece of the online community is Inbound Marketing University (IMU), a free online training center where marketing professionals can take courses and get certified in inbound marketing. The site offers live webinar classes (archived on the site and available on iTunes), an online certification exam and marketing materials for those who pass. HubSpot has promoted IMU through email marketing, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, bloggers and influencers. So far, more than 11,000 registered users and nearly 1,300 professionals have passed the inbound marketing training. The program has succeeded in generating leads for HubSpot and creating brand evangelists, who have started their own LinkedIn and Facebook groups for IMU.