Traackr & Honda UK launch Insight via Influencer campaign

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Earlier this year, we worked with Honda UK and Brazil, a progressive, forward-looking PR agency, to create a social media strategy for launching the Honda Insight in the UK.   Honda was facing a tremendous challenge: successfully launch a new car when worldwide car sales are at an all-time low and marketing budgets are slashed!

Honda UK responded creatively by taking their first major steps into Social Media.  Their strategy was built around a sound INFLUENCER CAMPAIGN we helped develop.

This is one of the most successful campaigns Traackr has been involved with thus far, so we wanted to share some of the insights.  We hope what we’ve shared here is helpful and (as always) we welcome all comments and questions.

Step one:  Traackr builds Honda’s top influencer list

Brazil and Honda understood that identifying the most valuable/important online influencers with whom they should speak was at the core of their social media PR outreach campaign: who would drive online conversations most effectively? Which sites do they use to communicate? What conversations are they interested in?  Traackr’s proprietary influencer search and qualification technology was used to answer these questions and uncover a targeted list of the Top 100 influencers.  These influencers were driving conversations around a variety of subjects, including hybrid vehicles, alternative energy, the environment, and green technology.

Honda UK was interested in finding those influencers who were most influential in the UK market.  However, we discovered that many of the online opinion leaders influencing behavior in the UK were actually based outside the UK.  Traackr’s search was able to identify and present these influencers, prompting Honda UK to coordinate a wider, international PR effort for their launch.

Traackr’s technology uncovered some very unconventional and interesting influencers for this campaign.  We also gave Honda  a clearer understanding of what types of conversations would impact the success of their launch as well as where those conversations were taking place.  For example, Traackr found out that most influencers were already very active on Twitter (Twitter became mainstream in the UK a few weeks after the campaign), leading Honda to become one of the first major brands to actively participate on Twitter in the UK.

Step Two:  Honda UK, Brazil, and Traackr collaborate to build influencer engagement strategy

influencer-list

For Brazil, one of the challenges of this engagement was the fact that the relevant influencers for the Insight covered a wide variety of topics and interests.  As part of its influencer report, Traackr provided groupings of influencers organized by these various topics of interest.  This information indicated in which conversations each influencer was most interested.  Topics included general car talk, green energy & the environment, general technology, and a host of others.  This report was the starting point of developing the influencer engagement strategy and communication plan.

Brazil led the development of a highly customized communication plan catering to specific influencers.  By understanding each influencer as individuals, they were able to structure an offering and a message that would most appeal to each.  This strategy went a long way in earning coverage.  While Brazil developed the communication plan, Honda UK coordinated across countries, and continents, to make sure internationally-based influencers would be engaged.

Step Three: Data-backed engagement proved highly effective

performance-report

As Brazil and Honda UK launched into the execution of the influencer engagement plan, Traackr provided weekly performance reports, allowing Brazil to instantly see the successes or failures of their approach.  Based on these reports, the engagement strategies were adjusted, re-executed, and re-measured on a regular basis.

During the main engagement period, Traackr’s reports showed that mentions of the Honda Insight among the Top Influencers increased by 300% and estimated coverage increased by 675%!

Here are just a few examples of coverage that Honda received from influencers during the engagement period:

Results: Insight launches successfully and overtakes Prius for #1 selling hybrid in the UK

The ultimate results of the campaign were wildly positive.  With very little mass-market spending, the Insight became the top selling hybrid vehicle in the UK.

Perhaps the results are  best summarized here by Robert Clay, aka. @marketingwizdom, another key influencer.

The successful engagement of top influencers also resulted in unexpected positive outcomes, for example when Honda Motors (US) reached out to one of the top influencers identified by Traackr, they received coverage much beyond expectations.

From the influencer himself…
http://zaproot.ning.com/profiles/blogs/video-for-the-new-honda
AND his network…
http://pinkcloudevents.com/blog/2009/07/our-first-video-series-carpool-convos-episode-1-of-3/
http://www.mnn.com/technology/gadgets-electronics/blogs/hondas-big-insight-into-green-marketing
http://eco-chick.com/2009/08/04/fruit-tree-mapping-and-eating-and-driving-green/
…resulting in great coverage for the Insight well beyond the UK borders!

Step Four: Nurturing relationships with top influencers

A large part of this campaign’s success can be attributed to Honda’s and Brazil’s ability to understand that “exploiting” influencers for a single “hit-and-run” campaign is not an effective strategy. Honda is committed to continue their relationships with the top, most relevant influencers — reaching out for feedback, opening wider communication channels, etc.  We commend both Honda UK and Brazil for their commitment to embrace social media and their capacity to turn the corner so quickly.

Conclusion

For us at Traackr, this partnership has proven very successful and very rewarding.  A big part of this campaign’s success was due to the strong collaboration between the Client (Honda), the Agency (Brazil) and us.  In this partnership, the Client effectively provided the resources and the brand direction; the Agency provided the executional skill and expertise; and Traackr provided the information and tools which allowed both the Client and the Agency to most efficiently and effectively carry out their strategy.  In our experience thus far, this type of full collaboration is still scarce.  We very much look forward to this continuing relationship as well as the development of similar partnerships with other clients of ours.