Skypin’ Around

Social media seems to be enjoying a great degree of popularity in the United Kingdom. According to eMarketer, 39 percent of UK Internet users (over 15 million people) will use social networks least once a month in 2009. Recognizing the potential, many advertisers and marketers have not missed the opportunity to tap into social media to help their clients.

One case study stood out to me—Albion’s award-winning Skype Nomad campaign, in which they sent a woman on a 33-day world  tour to near and far-away places from which she communicated via Skype.  (A fun assignment except for the possibility of sleep and food deprivation, though.)

It seemed like an efficient and creative way to demonstrate and showcase the product to its intended audience. As someone interested in learning more about Skype, this campaign resonated with me primarily because of the way Albion and their client chose to communicate to their audience to achieve their business objective of helping Skype raise awareness of the company’s mobile solutions.

Skype Nomad followers engage in conversation with the Nomad.

Skype Nomad followers engage in conversation with the Nomad.

Beside the fact that they knew their audience (early adopters), three other things  stood out about their approach:

1. They made it personal.The Skype Nomad, Rebecca,  posted updates about her daily experiences (good and bad) on Twitter and Facebook, among other social networking sites, photos on Flickr and (with some help from the Albion crew) videos on YouTube. The Nomad’s initial posts focused on the technology and whether/how it was working, but as the 33-day campaign progressed, followers also saw how she was reacting to her environment and circumstances: “The mountains so great that u can’t help but feel small. These mountains that minutes earlier I was cursing are now my comfort,” she wrote after what sounded like a particularly trying day from a technology perspective.

2. They were authentic. (See #1.) There was no sugarcoating—when Rebecca was having a bad day, her online friends and followers new. (“When she was down, or the technology didn’t work, she was brutally honest,” according to the Albion website.)  Followers also knew when something was good or worked, because they could see her using the product out on the field, much like they would be.

3. They started (and maintained) a conversation.While on the road, Rebecca “asked the community to help her make decisions about her trip.” This helped engage stakeholders even further by inviting them to be participants instead of just observers. (Albion states that after establishing a relationship with the audience and posting her field-based product demos on YouTube, sales of the 3 Skypephone rose.

Not only did the campaign result in increased awareness of Skype mobile solutions in the UK and the U.S. (9 and 18 percent, respectively), but Albion reported the following data points because of the campaign (or Rebecca’s personal and authentic ongoing conversation for the campaign’s duration):

  • 800,000 unique blog visitors
  • 140,000 Flickr page views
  • 300,000 YouTube video views
  • Over 175 stories in global blogs, press and television
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