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Real-time marketing on Twitter: Raising awareness vs changing behaviour

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Esurance, the online car insurance company, and Bank of America (BofA), the financial institution, adopted two different yet successful strategies to spread their message and brand, both taking to Twitter to supplement and leverage their Super Bowl television spots.

Esurance’s easy entry raises brand awareness

Esurance’s primary goal was to raise awareness of its brand on Twitter, and to this effect Esurance constructed a volume-led campaign. In securing the first spot after the Super Bowl coverage ended, it saved $1.5m and sought to gain goodwill by giving this saved money away to one lucky winner. Entry into the competition was straightforward, with participants required to tweet the hashtag #EsuranceSave30.

The low barrier to entry was reinforced by the competition not being a quiz-type that required any particular thinking. There was also no limit to the number of times an individual could tweet the hashtag, creating an unlimited potential for the Esurance name to be spread.

The competition elicited a total of nearly 5.5m mentions in 48 hours, of which over 3.3m were original entries.

BofA and celebrities’ call-to-arms spreads a message and delivers action

The Bank of America objective was less about Twitter volumes and more a call-to-arms to drive a specific behaviour. Following the airing of U2’s new song ‘Invisible’ during half-time, the song was available for free on iTunes over the next 24 hours and every time it was downloaded, BofA donated $1 to (RED)’s fight against HIV and AIDS.

The campaign raised over $3m, despite it generating around 200k mentions on Twitter over the 2nd and 3rd February. The success is due to the people endorsing it, namely celebrities with a standing so influential around the cause that it convinced people to take action, which required more than merely tweeting a hashtag.

Francesco D’Orazio, VP Product at Pulsar explains the critical success factors of each campaign: “The difference in dynamics is crystallised in their peak velocities. Given the timing of its advert, Esurance went viral between 7pm and 8pm PST, during which it received 23,000 mentions per minute at peak time. On the other hand, the BofA campaign – which had been announced in advance, somewhat dampening its spontaneous impact on Twitter – peaked at half-time between 4pm and 5pm PST at a velocity of 500 mentions per minute at peak time.

“A deeper look at the retweet:tweet ratio during their respective peaks underlines the campaigns’ contrasting characteristics. There are nearly 11 times as many tweets as retweets pertaining to Esurance, whilst retweets and tweets for BofA are almost level. Esurance sought to raise brand awareness, whereas BofA was about sharing a charitable message and encouraging action.” 

The top influencers for each campaign add to the story. Aside from Esurance itself and actor John Krasinski who starred in the advert, the most-retweeted individuals were ‘regular’ people. The BofA campaign was dominated by celebrities and Twitter accounts with a creditable and vested interest in the fight against AIDS. A look at top locations verifies this, with Los Angeles, “home of the stars”, featuring much more prominently for BofA than it did for Esurance.

D’Orazio concludes: “With its all-star army of celebrity advocates, BofA was able to reach a diverse audience on Twitter. The initial burst of engagement prior to the Super Bowl was led by television and comedy personalities, namely Oprah, Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien and Ellen DeGeneres. Actors and actresses such as Tom Hanks and Ashton Kutcher were also involved before kick-off, after which the music community took over. U2’s appearance ignited Miley Cyrus, Usher and the Rolling Stones. The campaign then filtered down to business (Apple’s Eddie Cue), politics (Bill Clinton) and fashion (Giselle Bundchen) tweeters”.

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