Ever since Jules and I won the competition to name the new mobile phone model Huawei U8230 on Facebook, I thought I should write something about viral marketing. In this competition we worked hard to get as many votes as possible for my suggestion – Huawei Social.
The background for the competition was that the Chinese technology manufacturer Huawei wanted to enter the Norwegian cell phone market with their new touchscreen devices. As a part of this process, they asked the users of Facebook to suggest names for the U8230 model. Within a certain date, two weeks ago last Sunday, users were asked to come up with name suggestions. On Monday the jury chose the top ten suggestions to go to a vote phase lasting from Monday to Friday. On that Friday the suggestion with the most votes got to be the name of the phone on the Norwegian market, and the user who would win the vote would, in addition to get a free phone, be the winner of a trip for two to Shanghai, travel and hotel included.
One day I entered the suggestions Huawei Future, Social, Millenium and Cellorama on Huawei’s Facebook page. The first suggestion was meant as a encouragement for a company which is going to enter a new market. In many ways China is the new technology superpower, at least when it comes to manifacturing new products. The Millenium reflected in many ways the same thought. As China, in 2001, joined the World Trade Organization the prices of clothes fell by around 20 percent, and the countries on the western hemisphere saw a new consumer and manifacturer market. Cellorama was just meant as a funny suggestion referring to the cell part in the word cellphone and the TV-show Futurama. With the last suggestion, Social, I thought about the use of new phones with, for example Facebook and Twitter, and also how we have always used our phones. With the iPhone-Android-touchscreen-openAPI-revolution phones created and fulfilled new ways of use. An example here is how I use my HTC Hero to connect to Facebook, Twitter and other social arenas. The name is also reflecting the means of the phone, and especially the cellphone: to contact others unrestrained by distance.
But enough about the names. How does this competition actually work? At the end of the competition on Friday my nominated suggestion, Huawei Social, won by 693 to 682 votes. Within two days Jules, all my friends and family who helped and I got in contact with almost 700 Facebook users who went into Huawei’s Norwegian Facebook page and left their votes. Being a company not known in the Norwegian market this kind of attention is a great advantage. Just by knowing the name, the scepticism about buying a product from a new company has been reduced drastically. The marketing money was also spent well getting consumers to get emotionally engaged in their product, at least I got emotionally engaged as the competition was exciting and, toward the end, very intense. I also know that many of my friends abroad spent much of their time helping me. David in Czech Republic skipped his lunch to help out, Sabina in Lithuania used a great deal of time her afternoon to recruit friends, and Magda from Poland got, in just half an hour, over 16 friends to vote and even more later that day. All over Norway, as well, friends and family put a lot of effort in in helping me. Everyone I asked were happy to help and did a great job by helping us win this competition. Now, all of those who helped also know about Huawei, and will be expecting a postcard.
This is a good example on a viral marketing campaign, because “size matters” and “the more the merrier”. But it’s not just about quantity, it’s also about quality. What makes the biggest impression, an add in a section down right on a random page, in a random newspaper on a random date or a competition where friends contact each other, collecting votes and spreading the word – Woops, sorry for the religious connotations – to complete a goal. Viral is a term coined to things which spreads it self from user to user throughout the Internet. We got viral music videos such as those from O.K. GO, or viral fun clips including a monkey smelling his own fingers after they been in contact with his butt, and emotional social pornography such as leave Britney alone which also was spread through the horrible parody movie “Meet the Spartans”. We share in e-mail messages, on facebook walls, through Twitter tweeds and many other media.
To round up the post about social competitions on the internet, just as a little freebie to the ones out there actually reading articles through, here are some experiences we picked up during our recruitment work. Firstly you have to get rid of any limitations you have about being annoying during the competition. In our case we had to stay on Facebook Chat to reach out to as many as possible. In the beginning we had time to chat, but towards the end I have to admitt that many of the sentences were copied and pasted into the respective chat windows. Secondly you have to ask your contacts to ask. There is a great difference from you reaching out to a hundred friends and get them to vote and get them to vote and also ask three four friends. Multiplication is more effective than addition. Even how cynical it sounds. When that is said: our experiences were that friends really want to help. Many spent much time getting votes, especially when the results are clear. Since we got into the competition two days after the beginning we counted down the number of votes to the first position. When we started the last day our suggestion was between 150 and 200 votes behind the one leading we counted down, and within the last four hours we were around one hundred and when the last hour arrived we were leading. After we won the competition I got some comments saying that the constant progress worked as an important motivating factor. We also tried to implement this into the facebook group we created by frequently updating the about field with motivating comments and results. We also sent out two messages to all users with status attending, maybe attending and awaiting reply. We only got two complaints on this, but taken into consideration that this messages reached out to over 3000 people that is not a high prosentage. I wrote this two messages in both Norwegian and English, and made the language as clear as possible, and made a two-step prosedure to vote. One of the most important propositions to get across was that this was to great help, and also that it could be done in under a minutes. Both propositions were true and that is also an important notion doing things online – Don’t lie. Two days of tremendous amount of work, speaking with hundreds of friends and family members, collegues and old acquaintances paid off, and in the beginning of September Jules and I are going to Shanghai.
It was fun to participate in such a competition, and even more fun to win. To all of you helping us winning the competition: thank you once more!