Creating a buzz requires a digital-first, leading-edge social strategy that uses the right content and the right channels to connect with an audience and amplify the message.

To increase FlexPod’s digital presence and engage with its technical audience, NetApp and Cisco partnered with Yeager Marketing to create a compelling social nurturing campaign, adding in Mercer-MacKay Digital Storytelling to support content amplification through FlexPod’s Twitter channel.

This collaborative team delivered the FlexPod Brainteaser Campaign, resulting in the highest-performing campaign in both Cisco and NetApp history. In a span of eight months, ten posts generated over 900,000 impressions and over 8,000 clicks across three main social channels – LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

“Gaining social media mindshare from the engineers, architects, and executives we want to reach is tough. We needed a social media content strategy that would resonate with smart, busy people who solve problems for a living.” 

Robin Holden

Global Alliances Marketing, NetApp

The Challenge

FlexPod is the leading converged infrastructure solution developed by NetApp and Cisco. The target audience are well-educated, highly technical individuals, responsible for deploying infrastructure and addressing data center challenges through technology innovation.

“We wanted to launch a FlexPod social media campaign that would create buzz and conversation across our target audience,” said Robin Holden, Global Alliances Marketing, NetApp. “But gaining social media mindshare from the engineers, architects, and executives we want to reach is tough. We needed a content strategy that would resonate with smart, busy people who solve problems for a living.”

What’s more, the campaign needed to be easy, to encourage participation across NetApp and Cisco employees. “Our teams are not necessarily comfortable with Tweeting or using LinkedIn. Many are often reluctant to share content publically, or find it challenging to separate personal from professional social media use,” noted Cindy Schalk, Strategic Partner Marketing Manager, Cisco. “We wanted an approach that would enable our teams to easily share content with their networks.”

The Solution

The FlexPod Brainteaser Campaign

Yeager Marketing is a vanguard for innovative, creative ideas. “We worked with NetApp and Cisco to determine the right messaging for this campaign. We decided to align FlexPod with the word “smart”; this became the catalyst to the Brainteaser idea,” explained Renee Yeager, CEO at Yeager Marketing.

The FlexPod Brainteaser campaign was designed to attract awareness and generate inquires. Brainteaser questions were posted to NetApp and Cisco social platforms, driving users to a landing page that displayed the Brainteaser’s answer. That landing page provided visitors the opportunity to download additional FlexPod resources.

“As an incentive to download FlexPod information, a donation of $1 would be made to One Laptop Per Child for each opt-in we received, to help develop young minds around the world,” said Schalk. “It was important to us to reflect both Cisco and NetApp culture by giving back.”

Employee and Partner Advocacy Through a Social Sharing Program

To amplify the program and make it easy for NetApp and Cisco teams to share the Brainteasers, Yeager Marketing developed an email nurture campaign, with one-click sharing capabilities.

“Employee and FlexPod partner advocacy was a central component in amplifying this campaign. We wanted to make it as simple as possible, but also provide sales people, alliance managers and the FlexPod partner ecosystem with good content, to help establish themselves socially and position themselves in an authentic way as subject matter experts online,” Yeager stated.

Each month, NetApp & Cisco employees and partners looked forward to sharing and participating in the Brainteaser campaign.

The Hand-Off to Social Teams & Mercer-MacKay for Amplification

Communication and collaboration were key when content was ready to be published. After Yeager Marketing had created content and imagery, the hand-off to NetApp and Cisco social channels occurred, including the @FlexPod Twitter handle, managed by Mercer-MacKay. “We’ve had steady growth with @FlexPod over the past two years,” said Gail Mercer-MacKay, Chief Storyteller. “On average we see about 15% growth in followers month-over-month. But the numbers spiked both in followers and engagement once the Brainteaser campaign started. Two years ago Twitter @FlexPod had about 1,000 followers – now we are well over 10,000 and growing. But more important is that the community is invested and engaged. For a social campaign to really work, you want people to feel connected, and to feel as if they are part of something interesting, innovative or important.”

The Results

“We’ve been thrilled with the results of this campaign,” continued Yeager. “But it was truly collaborative. There was no hidden agenda, which can sometimes occur when multiple companies are involved. Instead, we all brought out the best in each other: new ideas and creative thinking, and then ensuring we were measuring our results.”

The Brainteaser campaign has resonated with both internal and external audiences. In fact, it is the highest-performing social media campaign in both NetApp and Cisco history, achieving extraordinary results across all three social channels.

Ten Brainteaser social posts generated:

 

The success of this campaign does not go unnoticed. The FlexPod Brainteaser campaign received a finalist spot in the Killer Content Awards 2016 and in the Cisco Marketing Velocity Awards 2016.

“We had the A-Team make this campaign a reality. Yeager Marketing and Mercer-MacKay are an extension of our FlexPod team,” said Holden.