Last month, we got an e-mail from The Gold Group about an interesting project they had completed on behalf of SIGG Switzerland, which is an aluminum bottle manufacturer with its US offices based in Stamford, Conn., who are concerned about building their brand as being eco-conscious. The company solicited user-generated ideas, "crowdsourcing" a new design for their bottles. Based on the study, Gold wants to emphasize that the "wisdom of crowds" can generate interesting results, no matter which buzzword you use. The winning bottle design was produced and sold by the company.
A report that Jeff Greene, Executive Director of Client Services for the Gold Group, wrote, focused on the question, "Do social media outreach effects really produce word of mouth engagement? And, if they do, what are the most effective components of social media that should be incorporated into a campaign?"
The project, called SIGGART, drew more than 12,000 visits from about 8,000 people, according to the campaign's result, finding that "SIGGART did reach a small niche, yet that niche was deeply engaged--the result of a well-planned, online word of mouth campaign."
In short, the group focused on a series of lessons they found:
1.) The Internet is a research tool and a marketing tool combined into one.
2.) Social media sponsorships are vital to supporting an outreach campaign.
3.) Contacting bloggers is time-consuming work, but it can pay off.
4.) Social media is more than bloggers and MySpace; it's any special interest group with a strong web presence.
5.) Social bookmarking sites scan be a great resource, when chosen carefully.
What I found most interesting about this study is the fact that a group is willing to share more information about its campaign after its over. Too often, these user-generated content campaigns and word of mouth campaigns are never really analyzed afterward externally, so that we still talk in abstract terms about what engagement means or what proselytizing for a brand really equals in terms of creating any type of measurement of the nature that the much-easier-to-understand-phenomenon of impressions has.
You can never really "tell" what word of mouth means, or how deep engagement goes, by a single metric, so this campaign tries to analyze its success by looking at number of total visits, unique visits, time spent on the site on average, and the meeting of these various data streams. Their conclusion, of a deeply engaged niche, is the type of group we are interested in, and the argument that these people may touch many more, less deeply engaged consumers, who become influenced indirectly by this niche audience the campaign reached.
In short, campaigns like this can only be proven to reach a dedicated audience, but we both have to be cognizant that the effects of that deep engagement has ripple effects much farther out than can be measured, and also that the more nimble a campaign is, the less we need the numbers that a traditional marketing campaign would have to bring in to justify its reach. This campaign may have only reached a tight niche, but those fans of the brand are then empowered to reach much farther out, and the costs are much lower compared to a more traditional style of advertising.
For more on The Gold Group, look here.