Running out of cereal is usually a problem that one must face on his own. But when David Berkowitz awoke to the dilemma one morning this October, he got some support from an unexpected source. After reading a tweet about his irritation, Edge Shave Gel sent him enough cereal that it should be a very long time before he runs out again.
“I’m still eating the cereal they sent me, so the positive brand association continues,” says Berkowitz.
Since September, 234 people have benefited from similar random acts of kindness from the @EdgeShaveZone Twitter account. As part of Edge’s Anti-Irritation Campaign, a team of two devotes its full-time efforts to seeking, responding to, and relieving irritation across Twitter, much of which is conveyed using Edge’s #soirritating hashtag. The team has given out everything from iPads and computers to megaphones and dancing panda YouTube videos in their efforts to “solve irritation.” One woman tweeted that she had voices in her head that were speaking in Spanish — Edge responded with the gift of a Spanish/English dictionary.
In about three months, @EdgeShaveZone has gathered about 1,500 followers, the #soirritating hashtag has been used about 6,800 times, and attention from numerous media outlets has contributed to mounting buzz — all of which likely contributed to Edge’s decision to continue the campaign throughout 2011. Mashablerecently spoke with the team at Edelman Digital, that runs the campaign, about the factors that have contributed to its success.
Using Twitter, Not Changing Twitter
When was the last time you used Twitter to rave about a product you use every day? Most of us do that quite often. Designing a Twitter campaign that both promotes a brand effectively and fits the platform can be challenging. Instead of trying to change the way that people use the platform, the #soirritating campaign builds on top of what Twitter users are already doing: complaining.
“We picked Twitter because we noticed that a truth about Twitter was that people were always talking about how irritated they were about things, and we have a product that matched that truth, which was anti-irritation, so that was a good place for us,” says Katie Facada, the copywriter who composes tweets for @EdgeShaveZone.
Getting the Word Out
Edelman’s traditional PR agency handled media outreach to help spread the word about Edge’s random acts of kindness, but they also tried a unique angle. They asked popular humor blog someecards to design cartoons that promoted the campaign.
Another strategy in getting the word out was to solve irritations even before people picked up the #soirritating hashtag. The team set up Hootsuite to scan Twitter for its most irritated tweeters and surprised them by offering solutions. As people started becoming more familiar with the campaign and following @EdgeShaveZone, the team could respond to requests or tweet out timely conversation topics like “What Halloween candy is #soirritating?” (Orange foam peanuts, clearly.)
Becoming a Personality
When someone tweeted it was #soirritating that they had no Microsoft Surface, @EdgeShaveZone used this photo to explain that the team was in the middle of a game on the Microsoft Surface that happened to be in the lobby and wouldn’t be able to send it.Nobody wants to converse with a marketing bot. And Edge made significant efforts to avoid being boring. They kept their tweets honest, conversational, and as the campaign’s community manager Kevin DeStefan puts it (though he hates this phrase), “real.”
Obviously, many people find it #soirritating that their iPods, computers and other expensive electronics are broken, but the team continues to focus on unique requests they can start conversations about.
One woman, for instance, tweeted that her husband never put his hearing aids in.
“We can’t send him hearing aides, we can’t really make him wear hearing aids,” explains DeStefan. “So, we sent her a megaphone.”
“It was great for us, we got that engagement, and people actually followed us. So, other people were interested in what [was] going on,” DeStefan says.
Dolling Out Creativity, Not Cash
The team has given out a good share of expensive prizes: iPads, game tickets, and even a MacBook Pro. But they’ve found that it’s really the thought that counts.
“A lot of times we didn’t even have to give out prizes to solve irritations,” DeStefan says. “We had one computer programmer, she tweeted us saying that it was so irritating that she was having to program for old browsers. And obviously we really couldn’t do much about that irritation, so we sent her a video of a dancing panda, and that made her day.”
Taking Twitter Seriously
Copywriter Katie Facada and Account Executive Kevin DeStefan relieved irritation on a full-time basis from “The Zone” at Edelman Digital
During the campaign, Facada and DeStefan spent all day monitoring irritation on Twitter in a special room that they began to refer to as “the Zone.” This was no half-effort.
“One of the top things is really resource commitment, and really understanding that in order to have the frequency and the level of engagement required to talk with people in a meaningful way, it takes time,” explains Andrew Foote, senior vice president of Edelman Digital. “This isn’t something that you would typically add to the bottom of a program, you know—hey, put a few hours toward Twitter, send out tweets.”
In order for the campaign to be effective, it was also important to be able to interact in real time without waiting for client approval. Had the team, let’s say, had a weekly meeting with the client to approve that week’s tweets, the campaign would have lacked its conversational tone and much of its ability to engage.