Search for Unfair Advantage
During one of our weekly calls, Blueleaf bossman John told us he wanted more followers on @blueleafadvisor, the primary Blueleaf Twitter account which we use to speak directly to financial advisors. Social Media manager Yvonne and I were all like, “John! There just aren’t that many financial advisors on Twitter! We’re growing steadily, and that’s probably just how it’s going to be.”
And then John said something funny, he said, “We need to find some kind of leverage, an unfair advantage we can use. I love unfair advantages.” And that’s kind of how we came up with the idea for the giveaway, which was to give away free copies of Carl Richards’ new book, The Behavior Gap, to get more advisor followers.
The Giveaway Idea
Let’s give a book away to advisors who follow us. But we wanted more. We wanted advisors who could be a Blueleaf customer or evangelist. So, in order to qualify for the giveaway you had to be a verifiable U.S. financial advisor, a new follower to @blueleafadvisor, and tweet about the giveaway. That meant that while the instructions and qualifications were simple, they were also fairly restrictive which limited our potential numbers.
How did we do?
Before – Three months prior to the contest, Social Media manager Yvonne and I had been blogging, tweeting, sharing and growing the Blueleaf Advisor brand. Our efforts during this time netted us about 2 followers per day or about 15 per week — not bad, all things considered. Mixing in other channels and all our social media costs, each new follower cost about $27.50.
After – During the week of the giveaway, we received 47 new followers, tripling our weekly average. Of the 47 new followers we received as a direct result of the contest, only 33 qualified for the giveaway. With the cost of the book and our labor the cost per follower was a little lower at about $25.50. For us, those numbers were just OK.
Better than OK, however, was the sentiment, feedback, and support that we received. Every tweet about the contest was a positive one.
— Lauren Lyons Cole (@LaurenLyonsCole) January 25, 2012
— Brent Burns (@JBrentBurns) January 26, 2012
— Cathy Curtis (@curtisfinancial) January 26, 2012
Many who went through the process — even those who didn’t qualify like advisors from the UK — were both receptive and positive about the contest. The best part was that we were able to accelerate our follower growth with a slight decrease in cost per follower, a clear win. Overall, the giveaway made about 65,000 impressions on 22,000 users, which is a pretty good number. However, the contest as a whole didn’t quite give us the “unfair advantage” that we hoped for. But why?
What We Learned
First, thanks to our partner-in-contest SocMetrics, we learned that our contest landing page was too complicated. We adjusted it, and saw a higher conversion rate, but it was too little, too late. Notice the original landing page on the left compared to the simplified page on the right.
Second, we learned that we should have encouraged people to tweet or retweet (RT) as opposed to @reply @blueleafadvisor, because most of the tweets about the contest were, in fact, @replies. What many Twitter users don’t know is that @replies are only visible to followers following both the user AND the person they’re replying, which limits the tweet’s reach significantly. For example, the following tweet from Carl Richards (4050 followers) could only reach a maximum of 367 followers (the amount of followers Blueleaf Advisor had at the time) if every one of Blueleaf Advisor’s followers ALSO followed Carl Richards.
— Carl Richards (@behaviorgap) January 24, 2012