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ClickZ Holiday Social Showdown: Round One Winners

  |  December 8, 2011   |  Comments

Big brands like Coke, Target, and Verizon are cut, as eBay, Converse and others stay alive!

cowboy-shooting-flatIt's been a week since we launched ClickZ’s Holiday Social Showdown and it's time to make the cuts! The winners of the first round may come as a surprise. Indeed, the biggest upset may be the loss of iconic holiday advertiser Coca-Cola to another household staple, Betty Crocker.

Overall, the Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube efforts of the original 16 contestants ran the gamut from fun, product-centric YouTube videos to celebrity tweeters. Still, although most brands thought outside the deals and promotions box, many failed to wow.

"The big brands on the list fell down," said Ken Kraemer, executive creative director at Deep Focus, our outside Holiday Social Showdown judge. Brands like Coke and Target - known for beloved holiday campaigns - were "no shows," he said. "If I had to rate the whole field...we're at a strong C or a B," he said.

Overall, said Kraemer, the battling brands came up with initiatives that went beyond the same old deals and promos. "I thought across the board it would be promotion, promotion, promotion, and I didn't see a lot of that," he added.

Winners and Losers: Round One

eBay vs. Etsy: eBay Wins!
This was a tough one. Etsy is a likeable online underdog with innovative approaches to marketing. But, when compared with eBay and its "The More the Merrier" virtual gift sharing app, it couldn't quite make the cut. And, Etsy failed to use its high-quality YouTube channel, which is chock-full of videos about individual crafters, in conjunction with its holiday-themed site and Twitter posts.

Both brands have holiday gift guide apps that tap into Facebook friend data. However, eBay's is "naturally social" in that it requires people to share virtual versions of gifts, said Kraemer. "Every opened gift is an entry for you and your friends to win real gifts from eBay," notes the "More the Merrier" app. Other holiday-themed apps like the "Gentleman's Guide to Inspired Gifting" also employ Facebook friend data, and have been promoted on eBay's Twitter feed.

In this case, we disagreed with the ClickZ reader poll, which predicted Etsy would win, 73 percent to 27 percent.

AT&T vs. Verizon Wireless: AT&T Wins!
AT&T's Facebook video application, which produces custom videos starring quirky comedic actor Will Arnett, puts it over the edge. In comparison, Verizon's Facebook page is "wrapped in marketing speak," said Kraemer. AT&T is also getting lots of retweets on its #SeasonOfGifting posts, which encourage people to share their nominations of people who should receive each gift of the day. And, on Twitter yesterday the brand promoted a holiday mobile app focused video from among its AT&T Appetizers spots. "They’re creating content specifically for the [social] channels," while cross-promoting, said Kraemer.

Yet again, the ClickZ judges defied our reader poll, which predicted Verizon would win, 66 percent to 34 percent.

Best Buy vs. Target: Best Buy Wins!
While Target cluttered its Twitter feed with multiple instances of "we're sorry" and "we apologize for the frustrations," Best Buy pushed its "8 Days of Movies" promotion on Twitter. Target - known for its entertaining holiday TV commercials - has been less than creative in social media. A "Target Christmas" tab on Facebook turns up a page linking to information about free shipping, the store's weekly circular, and a preview of an upcoming three day sale.

"I was pretty disappointed with them...for a company that does really iconic marketing," said Kraemer.

But Best Buy did not win by default. In addition to initiatives like "8 Days", which were promoted on Twitter, the brand is producing short, light-hearted videos for the "Holiday Unwrapped" section of its YouTube channel. However, to stay on top in future Holiday Social Showdown rounds, Best Buy will need to "do more of it to feel like [the video effort] is consistent," said Kraemer.

According to data from SocialBakers, Target saw a significant drop in "people talking about" the brand on Facebook (628,439 on November 30 to 264,333 on December 7) compared to a Best Buy increase in the same time from 128,351 to 131,517.

Not surprising, ClickZ readers chose Target over Best Buy, 79 percent to 21 percent.

buildabear-fb-liveeventBuild-A-Bear vs. Toys "R" Us: Build-A-Bear Wins!
Build-A-Bear win this one paws down. Though Toys "R" Us has created a Scavenger Hunt Facebook effort that entices people to search through its virtual catalog to enter a sweepstakes, it's not exactly social.The create-your-own stuffed animal brand's Get Your Wish On Facebook app stands out by offering events featuring elves "live from the North Pole" interacting with and speaking directly to kids. Cute comments like, "OMG: Oh My Gingerbreads," and "I'm snow glad you're here" abound as the elves call out kids by name as they join the live events. Kids can also save and print wish lists of Build-A-Bear products.

A YouTube video describes the app to parents, ensuring them that it's safe for children.

The Build-A-Bear vs. Toys "R" Us bout was the closest in the first round of showdown polls, with Toys drawing 58 percent compared to Bear’s 42 percent.

Converse vs. Gap: Converse Wins!
Like Target, Gap's Twitter feed is riddled with customer service messages and apologies. And, its Joy It Up Mixtape holiday music app on Facebook seems misplaced, according to Kraemer, who believes a site like Pandora would make a better home for it. Meanwhile, over at @Converse, the footwear brand is pushing a series of short videos tied to day-long deals on specific shoes, and including hashtag #ConverseHolidays.

Recent videos can be viewed directly on Twitter, or on the Converse YouTube channel. One 40-second video entitled "Skankin' Santa" pairs a deal on plaid Converse All-Stars with a plaid-clad santa bopping maniacally to a holiday-themed ska tune. Another features a guy in a white "yeti" costume torturing a pair of Converse Star Classic sneakers. According to SocialBakers, Converse scored a Facebook page engagement rate of 8 out of a possible 35 in the past week compared to 2 of 35 for Gap. The metric tracks likes and comments.

In this case, ClickZ's readers predicted the winner, with 63 percent choosing Converse over Gap's 37 percent.

PlayStation vs. Xbox: Xbox Wins!
PlayStation has little by way of a holiday campaign in effect. So, while Xbox isn’t exactly tearing up the social media charts, the game brand wins this round. Xbox offers a "Holiday Wish List" app, for instance. Although Kraemer suggested the app is a "great idea" since it helps gift givers find the right presents for gamers, it falls down on execution, he said.

Xbox shows a recognition of the importance of using Twitter as more than a mere title promoter. Yesterday, the @Xbox account was commandeered by Twilight star Tinsel Korey. That may have contributed to its addition of around 13,000 Twitter followers in the past week compared to PlayStation’s gain of around 5,000.

ClickZ readers chose Xbox, too: 72 percent for Xbox, and 28 percent for PlayStation.

Betty Crocker vs. Coca-Cola: Betty Crocker Wins!
Coke's holiday can designs and polar bear TV spots are the stuff of Christmas advertising legend. So, it may come as a shock that the brand is doing very little for the holidays in social media, especially considering its massive follower numbers. The focus is mainly on Coke's ongoing cause campaign supporting polar bears, but there is no direct holiday connection. And, while there's a Coke Xmas 2011 app on Facebook, it is buried beneath around 20 other tabs on the Coke Facebook page.

Betty Crocker, maker of cake and cookie mixes among other products, is promoting holiday recipes on Facebook, and has changed its Twitter icon to promote an upcoming holiday cooking and baking help hotline of sorts: #Betty911.

Data from SocialBakers indicates a lack of enthusiasm around Coke's Facebook content in the past week. It scored a mere 1 out of a possible 35 on the engagement scale, compared to Betty's 16. Eighty percent of ClickZ readers voted for Coke.

Absolut vs. Bacardi: Bacardi Wins!
Both well-known booze brands are doing relatively cool holiday campaigns that tie video to Facebook and Twitter. Absolut's party invite app and mini video clips featuring party tips make for "good" video content, said Kraemer. However, the Absolut effort is less holiday-centric than party-centric. Bacardi, on the other hand, created an interactive holiday party app that incorporates Facebook data and lots of interactivity, such as a virtual DJ board.

The "Unwrap the Night" video experience employs a Facebook data integration tactic "that has been done a thousand and a half times," admitted Kraemer. "But that doesn't mean it doesn’t work....As a branding exercise, it's relevant," said Kraemer.

The ClickZ reader poll resulted in a whopping 90 percent vote for Absolut.

Voting has ended for this round.

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