Tue May 3rd 2011

The Social of Media - How an Idea to Generate 200K Fans in 28 Days Becomes Reality

The Concept & Strategy

Two and a half months ago, a small creative team started our concept and strategy session for Kirkland’s Q1 Facebook Promo. The goal of the promo was to generate 200,000 new fans in 28 days for Kirkland’s Facebook fan page. If you can imagine, more than seven people in a room yelling out ideas on top of each other back-to-back. One-after-one, we sliced and diced ideas that were too crazy and ideas that weren’t crazy enough. At redpepper, we like to be as edgy as our clients allow and test the demographics of our client’s consumer base as much as possible.

Fast forward a week later after the initial strategy session. A smaller team consisting of Copywriter - Joy Sarnacke, Controversial Motion Graphics Activist - The Alan Knox, Art Director - Neely Catignani and Inventor of the LikeLight - Matt Reed, came up with the final concept, which we now know as Cha-Ching. Cha-Ching would consist of a cash prize giveaway and a daily game of swapping with friends. 

The sweepstakes would drop a dime into the register every time a new fan likes Kirkland’s Facebook page. One lucky winner will get to empty the register and walk away with the cash prize of up to $25,000. The swapping game would be a daily game of swap-lifting with friends. Users draw a random item from the virtual shelf. If they didn’t like the item they received they can snag and swap the item from their friends’ bags. At midnight each day, each player will be entered to win the item they were holding in their bags for that day. 

It works just like musical chairs. When the music stops, every player is entered to win the item they currently hold and continue to play again by drawing another random item off the virtual shelf. Also, the added incentive is the more days they play, they get to unlock new badges which is associated to a new coupon.

Propers to the team for such a great concept and The Alan Knox for the creation of the Cha-Ching identity. You can see a video of the lettering process here.

The Execution

Fast forward another week to the point of execution on the idea. This is usually the most challenging part of a project. Brainstorming and ideation sessions are always fun. Sort of like a bunch of peeps sitting around smoking pot and getting all geeked-up to change the world. But when it’s time to execute the idea, the excitement can quickly diminish when the pain of creating something complex sets in and the high wears off. Enough of the metaphors, lets get to the point. 

So, this is where I jump in with my ninja design and development skills. We knew we wanted to create something that would drive fans to engage with what we created daily and not just be a one-night stand. My approach and logic for creating interactive media is to create things to entertain people and slip in the brand message. People will associate with a brand indirectly and will grow to like a brand just because they like what they are being entertained with. 

With interactive media, you build something that’s fun and give it out for people to enjoy. If they enjoy what they’re interacting with, then you will automatically be liked. This is called being cool by association. Just like if Brad Pitt was your best friend and girls see you out with him, then you will automatically gain cool points even if you’re the ugliest dude on earth.

We knew we wanted to reach as many people as possible to make this game viral. Studies have shown that friends are more likely to view material shared by close friends, but not strangers. The idea was to create footprints within people’s individual social networks and create impressions for the game leading people back to Kirkland’s fan page to like the brand and interact with the game.

As people interact with the game, footprints are created in the form of wall post. When a fan enters the contest, a wall post is generated in their feed and when a swap occurs in the game, a wall post is generated in both the player’s feed and the friend they swapped with. When a player unlocks a badge and promoted, a wall post is generated for the type of badge and coupon they unlocked. These footprints enter the news feed of each player’s social network and drive new people to experience the Cha-Ching game.

They peek the curiosity of friends and link them to experience the game and engage with the Kirkland’s brand. In order the experience the game, every visitor must like the Kirkland’s page before they can continue. This allows us to generate new fans for Kirkland’s. That is the trade-off for entertaining our fans with a social media game.

From the statistics and our experience with Facebook, users have an average of 250 friends. Approximately, 10 friends within their social network will click through on a wall post shared in their feed and approximatetly 2-3 will actively engage with the material after they click through. Every Facebook user’s social network is unique and most share similar friends. As the footprints are created, we begin to accumulate impressions for the game and with enough visibility, we slowly begin to penetrate new social networks.

Of course, we know there will be an annoyance factor as we blow up the news feed of everyone actively playing. This is actually positive because the people that don’t want to interact with the game will hide it, but the true fans will still play the game daily and continue to generate new impressions and we continue to slowly penetrate new social networks within Facebook.

The Design and Development Strategy

We wanted to make it as simple as possible for people to enter the sweepstakes and play the game. This means users would not be required do anything but click. We would not require them to enter information into the dreaded online entry form to enter and play. The game would pull all user information automatically for the person logged into Facebook. 

Cha-Ching would become a Facebook app that would use the Graph API to access permissions for pulling user data and friends list that is unique to each person social network. This allows us to enter them automatically into the contest and allow them to swap items with Facebook friends unique to their social network in real-time.

The most complex challenge that I had to solve was how to created something that is so heavily integrated with Facebook. I knew we wanted to develop the game in Flash and use the Graph API that was just released by Facebook a few months ago. Also, the existing challenge was I didn’t have very much experience with this new platform and would be breaking through walls to build it. After many long nights and a few weekends leading up to the launch date, Cha-Ching was ready for prime-time. Below are the development steps in a nutshell on how the game was developed. If you need the more nitty-gritty technical info, feel free to email us at redpepper.

Contest Entry Development Steps

1. Check to see if the visitor has liked the page by calling Facebook to get the $signed_request value for the page where the app tab is running.

2. Force user to like the page to continue, otherwise show the “GO” button to enter the contest.

3. When user clicks “GO” ask the user to grant permissions for the app to access basic information and publish permissions to their feed.

4. Once the user allows the app, pull the FB user ID, name and email by calling the Graph API and insert the record into the contest entries database.

5. Prompt the user they have been entered and direct them to play the Cha-Ching swapping game.

Also in addition to these steps, there are validation functions built in to check if the user has already entered and show different messages and views so they don’t become confused if they have already entered, which directs them to the game.

Swapping Game Development Steps

1. Each day players will draw a random item from the virtual shelf. 

2. The game will pull their friend’s list and compare them to all the players currently playing for the day in the game database.

3. A view of all the friends unique to their social network is displayed along with the items in their bag. The player may swap the item with anyone shown as many times as they like.

4. At midnight, the music stops and the game ends for the day. Users are entered to win the item in their bag. 

5. Players draw a new item and continue to swap for a total of 28 days.

Unlocking Coupons and Badge Promotions

We wanted to create a system to entice people to play more than once. Most games as we know do not get multiple interactions. People will usually click around when they find them and then never come back. The reason it’s so important to create more than one interaction is so the footprints can continue to penetrate the feeds of the player’s social network. As we know, most people won’t click on a shared link, but if they see it enough times, then it peaks their curiosity as it appears more often from different friends playing the game. The more impressions we get organically, the more people we drive to the game and generate new fans for Kirkland’s. 

We knew that people like coupons so we decided to add an incentive along with the daily giveaway to generate returning players. Players are promoted to four various badge levels depending on the number of days they play. Each badge level allows the player to unlock a new coupon. 

The Launch Strategy

The most important aspect of launching a promo is people need to discover it. People have to know the cool thing that we built exist so they can begin to interact with it. We decided to approach the launch in three different steps. 

On the first day, we launched it on Kirkland’s Facebook fan page as a tab and made it available for existing fans to interact with it for a day. This allowed us test the game in a live environment and fix any issues we discovered before launching it to a massive audience. On the second day, we sent out an email blast to Kirkland’s two-million email subscribers to drive interaction directly to the promo on a massive level. Finally, we deployed Facebook ads to drive new people that were not existing email subscribers and fans of Kirkland’s on Facebook.

As people entered the contest and played the game, the promo took on a life of its own. We immediately generated impressions as the wall post penetrated the individual social networks of all the active players. It annoyed and peaked the curiosity of the masses driving new people to discover the game and generating new likes for Kirkland’s.

The promo runs from April 7 though May 4th. There’s still two days left to enter and play. So far we have generated 196,00 new fans for Kirkland’s and very close to hitting our goal. Click here to experience the the promo.