Yahoo! movies summer program: from 200,000 to 1.2 million likes

On Tuesday March 27th, I attended my fifth Blogwell session (overall, this was the nineteenth session!) since the end of 2008, time flies! This session was taking 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, the lessons learnt from Yahoo! in their presentation were invaluable. Yahoo! was represented by Robin Zucker, Social Media director for the famous portal company. Her presentation was geared towards their engagement strategy and entitled “ summer movie programs”.

[photo cc by Yann Gourvennec http://bit.ly/picasayann]  

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 amount of people involved on 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

Q&A session

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.

Sabre holdings: the great community race

On March 29 I attended Sabre’s presentation at Blogwell in NYC.

a presentation by Susan Via, Manager Community Marketing and Engagement & Lorie Robinson, Product Marketing, Sabre holdings

Sabre is a major player in the airline reservation industry. Passenger reservations, cruise schedules etc. Some years ago, Sabre went on to embark on a community programme. There is a Sabre community portal, password-protected and a hub, which is Sabre’s Facebook-like business networking portal. The hub is a tool that Sabre’s customers had asked for. The objective was to increase employee engagement to improve customer experience. Yet, some of the engagement they got from employees was not always up to scratch.

This is why Sabre took a step back and launched the Great Community Race! The races stretched over a period of 3 months.  A minimum of 3 tasks were assigned to each team. Bonus points were granted and at the end a judge awarded prizes. The aim was to get over the “I don’t have time to do that” syndrome.

The result was pleasantly surprising. Some teams had given themselves  names, and the sense of competition and camaraderie was high. 4 awards were granted: 1) highest cumulative score 2) product suite with highest score 3) team with high score (not highest) but consistent approach 4) teams new to community

The result is seen by the team as an overall success:

  • 23 teams fully engaged
  • above 3,000 portal content items published and created
  • average blog posts/ month up 573%
  • portal accounts increased by 7%
  • hub accounts increased 9%

Lessons learned

  • having fun is useful in that process
  • so is Executive involvement
  • assigned tasks was appreciated
  • Sabre thinks they should have done this even earlier
  • it’s not a one-for-one return (“because we engage more doesn’t mean customers will”)

some of the next steps include:

  • community certification programme
  • strengthening of community interaction to increase sales’ understanding and participation
  • develop detailed external social media plan in order to decide how to best use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other tools.
  • the race ended recently, and the Sabre team wishes to move forward with was is going to be next.