This Yahoo! presentation kicked off my fifth Blogwell session (overall, this was the nineteenth session) since the end of 2008, time flies! This meeting took place in San Francisco in the beautiful Golden Gate Club venue in the Presidio park, a stone’s throw from the Golden Gate bridge. Not only was the view beautiful, but the lessons learnt from Yahoo! in their presentation were also invaluable. Yahoo! was represented by Robin Zucker, Social Media Director for the famous portal. Her presentation was geared towards their engagement strategy and entitled “Summer movie programs”.
The Yahoo!’s objectives were to become more social, and increase the Yahoo! movies fan base as well as reinforce the fact that Yahoo! movies is the premier online movie destination. Generally, the focus for Yahoo! was Facebook, “for obvious reasons” Robin said, because of the number of people involved in the popular social network.
“We are a digital company, so decided to help users decide what to see but also help them go and see the movies”. This is what prompted a partnership with a cinema house company named Regal Cinemas.
Yahoo!’s initial question for setting up the program (note: I love that term so much better than the word “campaign”) was user-centred: “What can we do that what would be relevant and interesting enough for users to share?”… which is a very good question to start from.
There is such a thing as free popcorn!
There is no such thing as a free lunch, but Yahoo! took care of the popcorn for all cinema-goers in the States who were clicking their summer movie program banners! News fans were indeed granted ‘”$6 worth for a small bag of pop-corn when they went to the cinema” through a coupon, Robin explained.
But the “key piece was the offline exposure in theatres” she added. Yahoo! decided to partner with Regal Cinemas which is one the of the largest network of cinema houses with 90,000,000 visitors throughout the Summer period (a rich period for film launches,such as Harry Potter and the smurfs as examples for the Summer of 2011)
2 distinct means of entry were chosen for users to engage in the program
- In Cinema theatres, there were placements of banners about the popcorn offer;
- Online, Yahoo! launched the popcorn.yahoo.net microsite
A mobile microsite was also put together. The site was leading users to the dedicated Facebook fan page. A great part of the program was to enable people to use social check-in (Facebook had just improved the system and that was providing additional exposure for Yahoo!)
Mobiles and smartphones still a big challenge
However, “asking users to use their smartphones is a big challenge” Robin added because it puts the onus on the user who is “being asked to do something different”. Similarly, the online experience was key as the main site was the main driver for visits. People would enter their phone number and the coupon would be sent over to their smartphone, then they could initiate social sharing, and then they’d get free popcorn … Well, as long as they had a smartphone! Robin concluded, that “mobile isn’t easy, because people are sometimes confused”.
1.2 million new Facebook likes!
Yahoo! went from 200,000 to 1.2 million likes and surpassed its initial objectives by 400,000 fans! “Those promotions initiated a lot of buzz for Yahoo!” Robin added:
- to start with, it generated 1.4 million more minutes spent on the Yahoo! movies website;
- besides, it also generated 200,000+ social check-ins at Regal cinemas
- and $1 m worth of free popcorn was munched by Yahoo! movie fans
What Worked well according to Robin:
- it was tied to an event, Yahoo! didn’t create anything, but decided to build on something that was already happening;
- the partnership with Regal Cinemas proved very successful;
- agency partnership allowed program optimisation in real time;
- flexibility after program launch;
- the offer was relevant and highly sharable.
What didn’t work so well according to Yahoo!
- there are some limitations with standard Facebook applications, which doesn’t allow cobranding or has no ability track deal exposure and is limited to smartphones, which tended to exclude certain users;
- the national chain coordination was a challenge (on site posting etc.);
- users without smartphones also were the “loudest” in social media;
- challenges with mobile coverage;
- training the staff locally
Was there much attrition after the program?
There was little attrition after the event because the event was very relevant. There is always a small level of attrition, but it’s minimised when the program is good and matches the public’s requirement.
Why hasn’t Yahoo! created its own social media platform?
There is a strategic partnership between the 2 companies, 80% of Yahoo! users are already on Facebook and besides, education is an issue so it would be more difficult for Yahoo! to launch their own platform.
ROI? How do you measure?
In general, it’s not easy because we don’t get all the numbers from Facebook but track the value of a Fan on visits and clicks and as Yahoo! is valued through content advertising, having more traffic allowed additional and new advertising opportunities.