At tonight’s Shorty Awards, a number of brands and their agencies (including Renegade!) will be recognized for their effective use of social media. Among the winners is one of my favorites, a campaign called #HintingSeason that was created by CP+B for BestBuy and won Best in Retail and Ecommerce. I call this particular campaign to your attention because it exemplifies all of things I believe social campaigns can and should do:
- Build off of a social truth (people would love to have permission to drop hints about what they want for the holidays)
- Help solve a particular business challenge (getting people to talk about gifting long before the holiday season)
- Features a really fun, clever and wonderfully simple idea (a two word hashtag #HintingSeason)
- Is inherently social but doesn’t rely solely on organic posts to get the conversation going among a broad target (paid media including bloggers & influencers helped spread the word)
To take a behind the scenes look at this campaign, I caught up CP+B’s Peter Knierim, VP/Creative Director and Britten Wolf, Social Supervisor. Both offer some critical insights into the success of this campaign that are well worth perusing. And since Peter notes that “It’s never too early to start hinting for what you want this holiday,” I just wanted to add that an Apple Watch would be lovely, thank you.
Drew: Hinting is certainly an age-old offline behavior — did you all notice that hinting was already being done on social channels for other things? If so, how did this influence your approach to #HintingSeason? If not, what gave you confidence that people would actually use the hashtag?
Peter Knierim: Research showed us that consumers who shop in October are likely to shop again during the holiday season. So, we first looked to solve the problem of talking to consumers about holiday shopping when they were buying their Halloween costumes. Hinting Season solved this by giving people permission to talk about what they wanted without rolling out the Santas and snowglobes that come with the holidays.
Britten Wolf: We used social listening to analyze how people were already hinting for what they wanted and found only a moderate amount of conversation. Considering the idea tapped into a truth we all do in real life, we knew that we could own the conversation come the holiday shopping season.
Drew: I’m guessing your campaign hashtag was not being used prior to launch. How did you build awareness of #HintingSeason? How much of a role did paid social media play in helping you to build this awareness?
Britten Wolf: Best Buy was not using #HintingSeason prior to the campaign’s launch. We had to build its awareness and correlation with Best Buy from scratch, which is an increasingly difficult task in today’s social media landscape.
We worked closely with Starcom to create an omni-channel media approach to build campaign awareness. From a social perspective, our teams and our influencer partners created really entertaining and engaging content. Paid social was pivotal in amplifying its reach and exposing the campaign to new audiences.
Drew: So once the idea was seeded via paid & Vine influencers (who were also paid right?), how long did it take for regular people to start using the hashtag? Was it a slow build or more like a big bang? Ultimately, do you have a sense for how many times #HintingSeason was actually used by “organically” by regular people?
Britten Wolf: Instantly. People already know how to hint. Best Buy just made it even more acceptable to do so before the holidays started. Conversations started on the first day of the campaign and sustained throughout the holiday season. #HintingSeason was used organically almost 50,000 times between October and December.
Drew: Looking back on this highly successful campaign, were there any “organic” surprises? What are some of your favorite hints?
Peter Knierim: A big part of the influencer component of the campaign was showing people how to hint in entertaining ways. We were surprised at some of the creative and funny ways people hinted at what they wanted.
Some of our favorite hints came toward the end of the campaign, when people started posting photos of them getting what they had hinted during Hinting Season.
Drew: Organic social media is often extremely difficult to link back to business performance. Were there any effort to differentiate results by paid versus organic social? Is that a fool’s errand?
Britten Wolf: Data drives everything we do in social. From content strategy to message effectiveness, we’re constantly testing and analyzing both paid and organic social’s performance to measure its effectiveness and show ROI.
Drew: Are there some things that you would do differently if you were to start again? Any lessons learned for marketers looking to achieve similar success? Is it time to start hinting to Best Buy to bring the campaign back for a 2nd round?
Peter Knierim: Now that the campaign is over, it’s easy to look back and see areas of improvement for future campaigns. One of the benefits of social, as a medium, is the ability to optimize in real time. From messaging to targeting to timing, we constantly strived to publish the most engaging and best performing content we could create.
Our advice for marketers looking to achieve similar success is to start by tackling a list of challenges, create a simple campaign rooted in human truth, and get more people what they want for Christmas.
It’s never too early to start hinting for what you want this holiday.
Drew: From the agency’s perspective, what did Best Buy do right to help you execute what was both a highly creative and ultimately effective campaign?
Peter Knierim: From the start, Best Buy knew there was potential in the Hinting Season idea. They showed the bravery a client needs to have to drive an idea that we all knew could be hugely successful or fail miserably. They challenged us to focus on it and create a compelling way of owning it. That confidence and challenge helped push our ideas and execution.