How to Create a Successful Visual Social Media Marketing Campaign: Case Study

The band Smashing Pumpkins decided to engage their fans through a visual social media marketing campaign.How to Create a Successful Visual Social Media Marketing Campaign: Case Study

The campaign was designed to draw in fans by asking various questions about the songs the band was about to release. The fans were asked to design visual representations or texts interpreting various titles.

The social media campaign, titled “Imagine Oceania”, was part of a promotion for the band’s new album “Oceania”. The challenge was initially posted through the photography blog and selected artists would have their artwork turned into limited edition posters signed by the band’s lead Billy Corgan, as well as the rest of the Smashing Pumpkins.

Additional fan art was exhibited on the band’s varied social media outlets. These included Storify, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook.

The visual social media campaign was designed to crowd source marketing by asking fans to participate, engage and share on social networks and the band would also reward the artists (their fans) by sharing their work on the band’s Facebook page which provides an audience of nearly 2.5 million fans.

So how can you make this strategy work for you?

 #1. Target Tech Savvy Fans

The band targeted a digitally savvy audience. By posting the challenge on a photography blog, users who are already familiar with digital technology and art will be enticed into competing. Artists who are Smashing Pumpkins fans will want to participate for a chance to be recognized by the band they adore as well.

Below is the Smashing Pumpkins Fan’s images on Facebook for the Imagine Oceania Competition.

Smashing Pumpkins Facebook Page Imagine Oceania Social Media Competition

The key here is targeted marketing. Smashing Pumpkins knows a huge group of their audience are young, smart, and tech-savvy. So they built a communication channel specific for this group. Who are your customers? Can you create specific ways to engage them that takes advantage of their particular skills and likes?

#2. Offer Low Cost Prizes with High Returns

The prizes are valuable but not costly. Fans can have their art printed on demand and signed by the band. This will not cost very much for the band, but fans will appreciate the gesture. Additionally, the recognition received by some of the artists might eventually translate into actual work. There are positive incentives for fans to participate.

You may need to invest heavily in a prize, but don’t make your audience invest heavily. Keep it simple

  1. Have them sign up with an email address and some
  2. Provide basic demographic information.
  3. Ask for a survey response to be entered.

#3. Drive Engagement and Sharing

The campaign was designed to drive engagement and sharing. Fans are engaged by competing, and various blogs and sites across the net publicized the band’s challenge, for free! This is free advertising for the band. Advertising is also being generated by word of mouth. This is the best type of free advertising there is. No one can pay for this type of exposure.

Here is how they shared it on Twitter with a link to their Facebook page.

Smashing Pumpkin Social Media Competition on Twitter for Imagine Oceania

The point here is to make the event as exciting as possible. How can you differentiate your campaign from your competition? Can you involve customers in a way that makes them want to share what they’ve done with their contact base?

#4. Attract an Existing Fan Base

Smashing Pumpkins are making use of an existing fan base. Instead of just making an effort to engage new fans, the band is also renewing interest among its existing fan base. Some fans may not have been active. In fact, many fans may not have thought about the band for quite some time, but engaging an existing fan base can cause former fans to have a renewed interest. In turn, these fans will eventually recruit new fans who will join in the fun.

The power of this technique relies upon the trust built with current and previous customers. You don’t have to court and sell yourself to this group: they already know you. You get to skip the whole process of establishing a relationship.

In Review

In looking at the different social media platforms used, Smashing Pumpkins could have gained more social sharing traction by using Instagram for publishing the fan art and not just the photography blog which is a minor player online.

If you have a look at the bands Instagram account not one of the fans images for the “Imagine Oceania” competition was published on the mobile social platform. This was an opportunity missed as Instagram is a much bigger social media network of over 100 million users. This would have assisted in increasing the success of the campaign.

A good example of leveraging Instagram as a visual social media marketing tool is displayed by how General Electric used Instagram successfully to promote their brand through a competition.

A visual social media campaign has the potential to jump start fan interaction exponentially; so learn from Smashing Pumpkins and get your customers excited and sharing images about your business!

What About You?

What visual social media marketing campaigns has worked for your business. If you are a digital agency, what campaigns using a strong visual element have worked best and why?

Look forward to hearing your stories in the comments below.

Guest Author: Tara HornorTara Hornor has a degree in English and has found her niche writing about marketing, advertising, branding, web and graphic design, and desktop publishing. Connect with @TaraHornor on Twitter.



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  • Deboah H. Bateman

    Thanks for sharing this post. I use social media to promote my books, blogs, and website, but you gave me some more ideas. Blessings, Deborah H. Bateman-Author

  • Frank Woodman Jr

    Interesting study with some good lessons to be learned. But of course it all comes down to finding a way to engage and share with your audience. Thanks for an interesting study and analysis.

  • Think Creative Media Works

    Great example – especially the idea of printing the t-shirt and then having it autographed to add more value. I can see having photo contest such as “What does peace mean to you?” or “100 Photos in 100 Days”. Then choosing a winner at the end.

    • Tara Hornor

      Great idea!

  • Andrew Booth

    Great article. Would anyone under the age of about 30 be considered tech-savvy, as they have grown up in the Internet age?

    • Jeff Bullas

      Maybe the term I would use would be “Web Savvy”

  • Katrina Moody

    I like this idea of engagement as it really does provide the band and fans a true chance for engagement – a way to share a personal connection and create an emotional pull as people care about the content they create and share as part of the contest! I would have loved to see some of the numbers the contest is pulling in from participants, social shares, etc.

    • Tara Hornor

      I too would have loved to see the numbers. However, it seems like they did have quite a bit of success from the entries that came in.

  • Tara Hornor

    You have a good point, Peter. Although, I do think that it may have to be a separate campaign. And focusing on only tech-savvy people or a more general group probably depends on the business or organization.

  • Tara Hornor

    Me too! Glad you enjoyed the article. :)

  • Malamaca82

    Great post! I agree that they completely missed an opportunity with Instragam – especially because it is used by SO MANY of their target followers! It is a nice case study on how artists can engage artists in a fun way.

  • Ishan

    Great article.

  • Salman Saleem