Another week, another promotion. We are now experimenting with social media marketing. More specifically, we are attempting to create a viral marketing event in the form of a sweepstakes. Aside from the obvious, which is to promote our own brand, we want to be able to demonstrate to our readers and members how to utilize social media to achieve a marketing goal. We selected ActiveRain (as the viral hub) and Twitter to be the core platform for this experiment.
In our opinion, the four rules below are the basis for a successful social media campaign:
Rule #1 - The transaction cost for participants has to be as low as possible
Transaction cost means not only the monetary cost, but the abstract cost of efforts, time and mental resources as well. We designed this sweepstakes so that it only takes a few seconds to enter. Just click here to post the following message to Twitter and you are in.
"RealBird http://bit.ly/YSWDK is giving away a free iPod Touch #realbird1 ReTweet to enter Rules: http://bit.ly/96ge"
Rule #2 - An incentive has to be provided
Incentives do not have to be monetary in nature. They can be a reward as trivial as feeling good because of the participation, as it would be the case in charity campaigns for instance. In this particular case, the incentive is two fold: 1) the Apple iPod Touch which will be the prize for one lucky participant - this is a monetary incentive 2) the excitement of participating in something of this nature - this is a mental incentive. I suggest not to underestimate 2) either in terms of its effect.
Rule #3 -Ideally, do some good in the process
Related to Rule #2, good campaigns are those with secondary or by-product value for participants. We designed this campaign in a way that the tweet contains a link to randomly selected active RealBird listing website. So while the message will be traveling on the web, every instance of the message will link to a random RealBird listing, hence bringing exposure for a RealBird member and their property; for free.
Rule #4 - Be as transparent as possible
Transparency creates trust. Trust increases participation. We made sure that you will see as much of this campaigns internals as we do. You'll see all participants by searching Twitter for the topic #realbird1 and you will also be able to see the click-through rate, peaks and drops, viral hubs and sources through the amazing URL shortening service bit.ly.
Enough of the theory: this is the single step to take in order to participate:
Simply Twitter (or retweet) the message below. Make sure that the Twitter topic #realbird1 is presented in the message.
Current participants: See as participants join the sweepstakes
Click-through traffic: See bit.ly stats here
Sweepstakes rules and disclaimers:
- No purchase is necessary to participate
- A participant is defined as a Twitter user, uniquely indetified by his or her Twitter username
- One prize for one randomly selected participant: an 8GB Apple iPod Touch (2nd generation)
- One entry per participant no matter how many campaign tweets are posted
- US and Canadian residents can win only (although we welcome others to retweet )
- Drawing is on April 2, 2009
- Free shipping of the free prize, no cost to the winner
- The linked, random RealBird property website may contain 3rd party advertisement. This advertisement only shows when visitors arrive through this campaign's channel and there are no advertisements on the RealBird single property websites otherwise.
- No association or business relationship is claimed by RealBird with ActiveRain, Twitter, Apple or any other party mentioned in the campaign.
- While RealBird employees and their families can Twitter the message, they can not participate in the sweepstakes and their Twitter account will be excluded from the list prior to the drawing
- Prohibited where local and state laws disallows such promotions
- The winner will be announced on this blog and we will contact him or her via email, Twitter and phone (if it is publicly available) for delivery information. If we can not reach the winner within two weeks from the drawing date, we'll conduct a new drawing.
Rather then adding it to the comments, I decided to keep the post updated with ongoing stats and adjustment of the campaign. The "trial and fail" concept of online marketing is very powerful because usually one can adjust tactics without spending too much resource on one particular one. Much easier and cheaper to do so, than with offline marketing. We'll be adjusting the sweepstakes concept to maximize its effect on an ongoing basis.
March 10, 2009
- 62 entries & around 700 click-throughts ( to the random RealBird listing - 1st link)
That is a ~10% view/entry ratio (assuming that all views of the tweets are actual click-throughs. This is most likely not the case, but I do not have info about the tweet views, only the click-throughs. If the views are even more, which is definitly the case, than the tweet ratio is even lower)
- 7 retweets of 62 entries - indicates low viral effect
That begs the question: why? I suspect a few things which might result in such a low relative participation:
- Lack of trust - many viewers of the campaign may not trust it. It may have an unfortunate "too good to be true" effect or the message may sound as a sales pitch. The experimental and no-string-attached nature does not come through neccessary from the Twitter message itself.
- Unefficient delivery platform - Twitter may not be the right platform to virally share this kind of giveaways for two reasons. One is that at any given time followers probably pay attention to the top most recent tweets and if one follows hundreds of users, this particular sweepstakes tweet disappears in the "noise", among the more recent messages. In other words, while the population of Twitter is large, one particular message can only reach a small percent of them due to its streaming nature. This is not the case with trending topics, where many people talk about the same issue "on their own", by their own impulse. Second, Twitter following is a weaker relationship than e.g. friendship on Facebook or other more close-knit platforms, hence the trust in a message (i.e. the promotion) shouted out by someone you follow is lower. Lack of trust also means increased transaction cost because one has to investigate the nature and intent of the message which requires efforts.
Change in tactics
We'll stick to Twitter with this campaing for the delivery platform, but rather than hoping that one viral hub, (like this post and a few reblogs), is enough to jump start the viral marketing event, we will focus on increasing the number of visible viral hubs through social bookmarking, announcement through a newsletter to the 14,000+ RealBird members etc. Surprisingly, I sent out some request to high profile real estate blogs for featuring this experiment and got only rejections so far. I suspect that it relates to the "lack of trust" described above as my request may come through as if I asked for free promotion, when in fact, I asked for participation in the experiment and trying to get more people get a chance to win. Again, the message may not reflect correctly that we are giving away an iPod Touch for as little as posting a message for free on Twitter. But since perception is as important in marketing as reality, this is another important lesson to learn from. We'll adjust the message accordingly.