October 20, 2017

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

Social Media Smorgasbord

Social Media Smorgasbord

Developing case studies in the Social Media era can be tough: so many of the campaigns now underway in this arena are either lauded for the use of new tools like Twitter, or, wind up sounding relatively mundane: for example, as grueling and thoughtful as the work of “Blogger Relations” can be, it’s simply hard to make it sound cool anymore.

Nevertheless, I think that this represents a pretty cool approach:

HubSpot, a client of SHIFT Communications, helps small businesses tackle all aspects of internet marketing including search engine optimization. As part of their service suite, the Company developed Website Grader, a nifty, free tool for evaluating the effectiveness of a company’s web presence. The Website Grader application also served as a lead generation tool – to help companies self-identify as online-marketing novices (a.k.a. good prospects for HubSpot). Website Grader quickly caught on, despite the fact that HubSpot put no marketing muscle behind it.

Fast forward a couple of months and HubSpot was pleased with how Website Grader was performing. Some bloggers were writing about it and *PC Magazine* included it in a list of the best new undiscovered Web sites. Best of all, Website Grader was generating sales leads at a healthy clip.

However, the internet marketing game is not only competitive but rife with claims and counter-claims. We all knew that a positive post by an A-list marketing blogger could both clarify the value of HubSpot’s offering and escalate the Company’s growth to new heights.

The SHIFT team worked with HubSpot to develop a social media press release (SMPR) that included a sample Website Grader report as a multimedia element. But this wasn’t just any “sample.” The report judged the SEO capabilities of Technorati’s top 20 blogs: blogs run by hard-charging, well-known personalities with sensitive egos. How would they feel about having the effectiveness of their web presence compared head-to-head against their peers?

As the release hit the wire, the SHIFT team used targeted pitches to laud (or reassure!) the bloggers mentioned in the Top Bloggers SEO Report, and offered them access to the Hubspot application to play around for themselves. With just 20-odd hooks in the water, everyone was thrilled when Guy Kawasaki took the bait.

On Twitter, @GuyKawasaki tweeted about Website Grader twice: he loved it. He also wrote a follow-on post on his How to Change the World blog (including a Website Grader logo that had been made available via the SMPR).
Interestingly, Kawasaki’s first tweet referenced a post at HubSpot’s own blog about the Top Bloggers SEO Report; a link that was referenced in the SMPR (but which was not included in our outreach).
In other words: Guy Kawasaki clearly had read the social media release, clicked on its links, and subsequently re-purposed the SMPR’s content for his own use: just the type of interactivity and content re-mixing that the SHIFT team had hoped for.

After the Kawasaki blog post, traffic spiked from 720 new visitors the previous day to over 8,000 over subsequent days, before falling back to normal levels.
The following week, though, Website Grader was included in *The Boston Globe’s* Business Filter, a section highlighting interesting online stories selected by Globe reporters. The information was attributed to the Kawasaki blog. And again, traffic leapt for two days straight.

All told, the SMPR content and follow-on support by Guy Kawasaki generated 85 high-quality business leads for HubSpot. Mission accomplished.
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*Todd Defren is a principal at SHIFT Communications, an independent PR consultancy specializing in PR and social media campaigns for tech companies and consumer products.*

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