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Big Things Happen Here

Emmitt Smith poses for the BIG Things campaign by Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau

On Thursday, September 19th the Social Media Club of Dallas hosted one of the highlights of its program year at the Angelika Theater—the 2013 Social Media Showcase. A packed house listened intently to five case studies about effective social media campaigns. The selected presenters delivered both style and substance and made the audience of over 300 people pleased to be a part of the third-annual event and of SMC Dallas.

The Social Media Showcase is unusual for an award ceremony. In analyzing social media case studies from Dallas-based companies, it recognizes a handful of campaigns that have been selected for their effectiveness and design. The social media projects also represent a range of industries, channels, and objectives.

BIG Things Happening In Big D

Priscilla Hagstrom, VP of Communications for the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau presented the results of a campaign they had conducted in conjunction with Nimble Worldwide. The goal was to extend awareness of the entertainment, arts, sports, and cultural opportunities that exist in Dallas.

They came up with the “BIG Things Happen Here” marketing campaign, which made use of social platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. The key element was the “B_G” (basically, BIG with the “I” missing) photo contest, which invited audience engagement and resulted in nearly 30,000 additional Facebook “Likes” for the still-ongoing campaign. Other measures of engagement showed similar dramatic gains. The number of Twitter followers doubled from 5-10,000.

Most exciting and useful, however, is the fact that the group was able to identify the target persona for DC&VB. “They are 29- to 44-year-old college-educated mothers,” said Peterson, “who are mainly interested in family activities.” When these residents of Dallas become more aware of community resources they become ambassadors for the city.

B_G Learnings

  • The essential element of a successful social media campaign is identification of the key audience
  • Communications should be tailored to the interests of the target audience
  • Establish target objectives before the campaign begins and measure outcomes

Find Your Pie-Dentity

Pie Five Pizza and the advertising agency Slingshot, LLC. described the “Find Your Pie-Dentity” campaign they conducted for three weeks in June of 2012. The presenter was Kristy Ladner, VP of Digital Presence at Slingshot. Members of the audience who weren’t hungry when the Showcase began had sudden hunger pangs during Ladner’s presentation as she shared some key findings from the Pie Five Pizzas campaign. Their goal was to drive traffic to new stores for the new fast-growing casual food chain.

Slingshot used radio ads, paid search and targeted Facebook ads, linked to, a branded Tumblr blog that allowed visitors to learn about Pie Five and leveraged Instagram. The brand is focused on delivering a fresh, personal-size pizza in five minutes or less.

The key element was the way Slingshot used Snapchat to engage the millennial audience who participates on the photo/video-sharing app. Some of the submissions the group received were surprising said Ladner. “Many participants asked if we were a real, and (we received images) of someone’s goldfish.”

Pie-Dentity Learnings

  • Because Snapshot is not brand friendly, it was necessary to get creative.
  • With Snapshot it is very difficult to track followers.
  • It is essential that the brand respond to followers appropriately and quickly.

Huntsville, Alabama Opening of Zoës Kitchen: Wow-level Success with a Small Budget

By the time Jessica Nuñez stepped to the podium, food was top-of-mind for everyone. Nuñez, head of the Nuñez PR Group , talked about a campaign with her client, Zoës Kitchen when they opened their store in Huntsville, Alabama.

Jessica Nunez speaking at Social Media Showcase

Jessica Nunez explains Social’s impact on new store openings for Zoes Kitchen

“The goal of the campaign,” said Nuñez, “was to streamline marketing efforts, generate awareness, engage potential customers and incentivize store visits.” Core objectives included 2.5 million media impressions, 1 million geo-targeted Facebook impressions, 500 Facebook shares and 2,500 new Facebook “Fans.” And, amazingly, Nuñez PR had a very small budget to work with—only $5,260.

Using Facebook and Yelp, Nuñez PR was able to bump word of mouth, generate increased store traffic and build lasting relationships with local customers. Metrics show that Zoës was able to garner one million social media impressions by geo-targeting posts.

Zoës Learnings

  • It works best when multiple platforms are used including traditional media and social media. This helps to build word of mouth.
  • Active campaigns need to begin three weeks before a new store opens and continue for two weeks after.
  • From the response to the campaigns it is possible to predict how well the store will perform when it opens and adjust promotions accordingly.
  • The best responses come from offering free meals and Facebook give-aways.
  • For the opening of the Huntsville store Zoes spent about $.50/Fan. The goal was $.80 each.

Of all the results data Nuñez shared, the most interesting was that 15% of the new restaurant’s Facebook “Likes” came from mobile users. “That might not seem like a lot, but when you take into account that many of these restaurants are in rural areas, that is significant.”

Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative Registry: Helping to Keep the Boom in the Boomers

Chris Bradshaw and the BOOMbox Network were charged with increasing the growth of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative Registry. Created in 2012, the Alzheimer’s Initiative is dedicated to building awareness about alzheimers and acquiring contacts for future clinical trials. Their target audience is baby boomers and senior citizens.

Using paid bloggers in addition to posts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest, the agency was able to attain more than 3,000 registrations in just six weeks. The high level of audience engagement was apparent from the 15-20 comments to each of the heart-felt stories shared in the posts.

Alzheimer’s Initiative Learnings

  • Even after this campaign, the cost of acquisitions continues to go down.
  • As additional tactics are combined with the ones from this campaign, the Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) continues to decline.
  • The number of blog posts was too high. They are now doing one every few weeks and adding more educational events.
  • Comments on blog posts on other sites can encourage more people to register for the initiative.

Surprisingly, the group found Twitter to be the best platform to drive registrations. What’s more, the bloggers’ use of effective storytelling to drive home the devastating effects of the disease was also a huge benefit, she said.

Using Video to Promote Lone Star Park

No one in the audience should have been surprised to see Chris Yates  of Huddle Productions at the front of the room during this event. Yates is a promoter who is as talented as he is funny. It’s easy to imagine any campaign experiencing growth as a result of his involvement.

Chris Yates of Huddle Productions

Chris Yates and Marisa Reynolds ham it up in Verizon promo glasses before the Showcase

From early April to early July of 2012, Huddle assisted Lone Star Park in an effort to increase awareness of the venue and to drive up attendance and the loyalty of consumers and employees. Using compelling content as the social media hook, the group accessed Twitter hashtags, Facebook contests, YouTube videos and Google+ Hangouts to attract followers to the park. Yates was able to draw 15-25 bloggers for the 13 races in the season, and the 30 videos he produced provided plenty of fodder for shares on social media.

The results were impressive: Overall daily attendance for Thoroughbred Season grew by more than 10,000 fans; traditional media coverage blossomed to levels unseen in the past; Facebook Fans increased to more than 3,000; Twitter impressions totaled 15 million; and YouTube views were increased by 10,000.

Lone Star Park Learnings

Effectiveness is magnified when the focus is on storytelling and a variety of content

Breakthrough the clutter by focusing on others

Video is center of a great campaign

It was fitting that the entertaining Yates delivered the final presentation in the 2013 Social Media Showcase. In the last three years it has become a must-attend affair.


Ronell SmithRonell Smith is the Director of Strategy for Advice Interactive Group, a full-service digital marketing agency with offices in Texas, California and Florida. He’s driven by a desire to enhance the online user experience via compelling, persona-guided content.