The Human Impact of Social Marketing

Now, that was a social promotion.

Amidst all the Liking, sharing and other metrics now readily available, it’s easy to forget the very real, very emotional connection created by a successful social promotion. This impact was on full display, however, at the recent Ultimate Game Changer Awards Dinner.

The event was the culmination of the Ultimate Game Changer social promotion Media Logic developed and executed for MVP Health Care – a “post-and-vote” contest that asked people to nominate individuals who make their respective communities better or healthier.

The contest took place across a broad swath of the health insurer’s footprint, spanning New York State and Vermont. By the time it was over, more than 150 people were nominated and over 40,000 votes were cast. For a first-time promotion running just a few weeks in a regional market, these are excellent returns. But the true impact of this effort goes beyond the numbers.

From a construction standpoint, the promotion was fairly turnkey.

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The Top 10 finalists were determined by online voting, and a panel of judges chose the ultimate winner. This allowed us to maximize the social energy during the nominating and voting process, while ensuring a qualitative approach to selecting the winner. (As it turns out, all 10 of our finalists would have been fantastic, worthy winners.)

The intentionally modest prize of $1,000 (for both the nominator and nominee) was enough to boost sharing and voting, but a big part of the contest’s appeal was the aforementioned event … offering a chance to meet soccer champion Abby Wambach, fresh off her latest Olympic Gold Medal victory, as well MVP’s other wellness ambassadors.

From a strategic standpoint, this one checked all the boxes.

It was on-brand, demonstrating MVP’s commitment to health and wellness across its many communities. It was distinct; at a time when other health plans were running their traditional open enrollment advertising, MVP wasn’t just talking about wellness and caring for the community … it was demonstrating this commitment, and engaging consumers in a meaningful way.

The promotion also offered a way to leverage MVP’s longtime relationship with Wambach, who has rocketed up the ranks of the Forbes 100 of athletes and is now working for the likes of Nike and Gatorade. She is a polished, powerful advocate for wellness, and she was clearly the perfect spokesperson for a promotion about “Game Changers.” (Side note: working with Abby is a true pleasure. This is the second time I’ve worked with her personally, and I can attest that she is completely real and relatable – and sincerely dedicated to the cause of wellness. I even got to play goalie against her briefly during some downtime. The results were as bad, or perhaps even worse, than you can imagine.)

Turnkey and strategic? Yes and yes. But what made this promotion truly shine was the experiential layer.

The Ultimate Game Changer experience included all the nominating and voting, of course, as well as the sharing and lobbying the entrants were doing behind the scenes. However, the key to this experience was the event itself. All 10 finalists plus the people who nominated them (and their guests) were invited to the awards dinner. Only one was unable to attend, and that’s because, unfortunately, he was hospitalized with a serious illness.

In the week leading to the awards dinner, I set off with intrepid video partner Working Pictures to compile interview segments with each of the nominators – which we ultimately turned into a video shown at the event. This “star treatment” made our nominators feel special and offered yet another experiential layer. When we arrived at the schools, food pantries and other organizations affiliated with the finalists, there was palpable excitement. The people at these places had worked hard to get their “champion” into the finals – a firsthand look at the powerful multiplier effect of social marketing. (Another side note: what an inspiring group of finalists! The people we interviewed were accommodating, friendly and truly proud of their nominees. After meeting them all, I’m glad I was not one of the judges!)

This experience was capped with the dinner event. Picture a banquet hall filled with some of the most kind, giving and gracious people in the region – mingling with and congratulating each other – and you have a setting where you could truly feel the love. When the ultimate winner was announced (it was actually the gentlemen unable to attend, though his representative read a beautifully-worded letter of thanks), there was no sense of letdown in the room. Joy. Pride. Maybe even a sense of shared purpose. The rarest of “marketing” events.

Obviously, most social promotions and marketing campaigns will never culminate in a dinner party, but there’s a larger lesson here: all those Likes and shares and button pushes we track mean so much more than that. They represent real people reaching out to other real people to share their passions and join in a united cause or interest – the human impact of social marketing.

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