Embassy Suites finds the "Über Fan"

Seeking to continue to grow and engage its social media audience, Embassy Suites Hotels and AOR Emanate created a Facebook "Über Fan" contest for fanatical fans of all ilks.

Client: Embassy Suites Hotels (McLean, Virginia)

PR agency: Emanate (New York)

Campaign: Über Fan Campaign

Duration: August  – October 2010

Budget: $190,000

Seeking to continue to grow and engage its social media audience, Embassy Suites Hotels and AOR Emanate created a Facebook “Über Fan” contest for fanatical fans of all ilks. VP of brand marketing John Lee says the idea was to provide a platform for individuals to express and share personal passions and to illustrate through prizes, including $10,000 and 20 free nights at any Embassy Suites hotel, how the brand could support their fandom.

“There are a lot of fans on Facebook – fans of sports, bands, cooking, etc. – and we wanted to tap into this fandom,” Lee explains. “It was a good fit because many fans travel to events tied to their passion. A hotel can play a role in facilitating that.”

Strategy

Emanate devised the contest concept, which called for individuals to submit photos illustrating their fandom and explain why they deserved “Über Fan” status. Facebook fans chose a winner from five finalists.

MaryBeth Clayton, Emanate's director of consumer marketing, says awarding significant prizes and encouraging entrants to share contest information with their own social media and fan networks was key to success.

Tactics

The contest launched September 1. Travel media and blogs, as well as contest and mommy blogs, were pitched.

Entries were grouped into categories, which included Harry Potter, Twilight, and Lady Gaga. The team then conducted aggressive online outreach into fan communities, including websites and Twitter feeds, across the hottest categories. Clayton says friendly competition developed between “major fan communities,” and individual fans also rallied larger fan bases to try and win the contest.

Daily updates were posted on Facebook and Twitter. The breadth of fan communities involved allowed the team to continue pitching a wide variety of traditional media and online outlets.

“The winner is from Chicago, and not only did Chicago media cover her, they were rooting for her,” Clayton notes.

Other tactics included a September 20 Twitter party hosted by a prominent mommy blogger (TravelingMom.com), who Clayton says represents Embassy Suites' core audience.

Results

Lee reports Facebook fans increased from about 34,800 before the campaign to about 43,000, and more than 1.4 million impressions were garnered on the site (as per Facebook Insights). The contest attracted 300 entries and more than 1,600 finalist votes.

Clayton reports audience reach of nearly 2 million on Twitter, and nearly 4.8 million media impressions to date in outlets including to Chicago Sun-Times and USAToday.com.

Future

Lee says the team is currently positioning Embassy Suites a holiday travel solution via social media and traditional media channels.

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