How a Hashtag and Shiny Shoes Brought B2B Social to Life at #SESNY

didyouseethat-sesnyOn the surface, they were just four ridiculously blinding pairs of shoes.

Behind the shoes, though, was a comprehensive, multi-channel campaign – dubbed #didyouseethat – that used social media and branding to drive engagement both on-site and online at SES New York. Previously, we talked about the anatomy of a B2B social campaign; this time, we want to show you how we made that a reality.

The results speak for themselves: 3,500+ unique social interactions; 400+ individual posts; multi-touch campaign interaction (both online and on-site) with 63 percent of all leads; and face-to-face conversations with 30 target brands. All in just 36 hours.

But perhaps most importantly, #didyouseethat showed why successful social media campaigns are no accident. They’re the direct result of a strategic, intentional framework that forces marketers to tie “Wow!” to hard, tangible metrics.

Read on for the full case study.


1. The framework. The fundamental factor of success behind any social campaign has nothing to do with social. Instead, it’s all about how clearly you’ve articulated your overall business goals – and how social directly impacts them.

The #didyouseethat campaign was driven by two long-standing goals (established months before we even began thinking of shoes): 1) deliver a target number of pipeline (lead generation); and 2) position the brand as a must-watch player in digital marketing (branding).

2. The concept. Confession: I’m a sneakerhead. Put me in front of a pair of rare Nikes, and you’ve pretty much won my heart.

But it’s not just me. There’s something powerful about shoes; they undeniably grab people’s attention. You might not think about them day-to-day, but when someone wears a bold pair – a crazy color, an outlandish style – it’s almost impossible not to notice.

That’s what got our marketing heads spinning. Branding the craziest shoes we could find, if nothing else, would open up an opportunity; a brief moment when all eyes would literally be on us.

3. The experience. Fundamentally, #didyouseethat was very simple. A colleague and I wore ridiculously bright, branded shoes all throughout SES. Our message, both online and on-site, was equally simple: just find the shoes.


Once you found us, all we asked you to do was tweet a picture of the shoes with the hashtag #didyouseethat. That’s it – no sales pitch, no corporate messaging. Each tweet entered you to win our grand prize: a chance to design your own sneakers; a $500 airline gift card; and a free Platinum Pass to an upcoming SES show.

Creating this seamless experience, though, was the most painful part of the creative process. We spent hours ruthlessly testing every user interaction point to determine where people were most likely to disengage. And by testing, I don’t mean discussing the plan over a conference room table. We physically acted out countless scenarios – people coming from a session, people on the expo floor, people who had no prior knowledge of the shoes – to identify every potential area of confusion or abandonment.

Ultimately, our goal was to deliver an experience that would make the average person want to engage with us – on a human level, not as a potential customer.

4. The measurement. Our next step, and perhaps the most important one, was to map every potential interaction point to a tangible metric. That meant creating a comprehensive set of campaign IDs that allowed us to measure the engagement on every tweet, post, and update. Every channel – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blog posts, digital ads, even our sponsored conference Wi-Fi login page – was given a unique campaign ID that enabled us to clearly identify how and where users were interacting. Unique IDs were also created to reflect the different phases of our campaign – pre-show, on-site, and post-show – so that we could attribute specific engagement to specific times.

These campaign IDs also helped us optimize our campaign on the fly. For example, analysis after the first few hours of the campaign revealed visual content was driving significantly higher engagement on Facebook than on Twitter. Similarly, specific offers were resonating extremely well on Twitter, but not so well on other channels. We quickly adapted our strategy to ensure the right types of content were prominent on the appropriate channels.

5. The content. Overall, our content was a direct result of the creative concept and user experience we defined in steps three and four. Specifically, our desire to deliver an experience that would connect on a human level – not on a sales or marketing one – dramatically impacted our language, tone, and presentation.

In particular, we intentionally stripped away all sales messaging from the campaign and focused on giving the shoes a human voice. Similarly, from a visual standpoint, we capitalized on the fact that the shoes were, well, in the words of one SES attendee: “Hot.” That meant getting a little crazy. I’m talking the shoes at the bar; #didyouseethat as a meme (Grumpy Cat anyone?); dressing up as an M&M’s mascot; even going to the moon.

There wasn’t a hidden agenda with any of this. Connecting on a human level means having a personality and embracing the fact that 99 percent of the world uses the Internet for meaningless nonsense. (I totally made that stat up, by the way.) If nothing else, we just wanted to break up the long conference days and make you smile a little bit.

The Results

Our main criterion for success was engagement. This was especially true in social. Reach and impressions are great, but what we really wanted was what we define as “social interaction”: links clicked, comments, retweets, shares, likes – actions that indicate active engagement, not just passive consumption of content.


We got what we were looking for. In just 36 hours, we measured over 3,500+ unique social interactions. We also measured 400+ user-generated posts around #didyouseethat – conversation driven not by our marketing team, but by SES attendees embracing the shoes and making the campaign their own.

More importantly, this social momentum directly drove in-person engagement. More than 63 percent of all of our on-site leads also interacted with the campaign online. And it also led to face-to-face conversations with 30 target brands we had identified before the show.

Why Any of This Matters

B2B marketing – and social in particular – has the potential to be just as spectacular as anything we see in B2C. I’m not saying we did that at SES New York, but #didyouseethat confirmed one thing: social has nearly limitless potential in terms of what you can measure and optimize, and that means even the craziest idea can deliver real ROI.

After all, in creative social marketing, the what is obvious – in this case, flashy sneakers. What’s not so apparent is the how, and that’s why I’m sharing the details and numbers behind our campaign here. I want to challenge your notion of what B2B social looks like, in the hope that it sparks ideas of your own.

In future posts, I’ll dive deeper into why this campaign – and others like it – worked. We’ll talk about what makes or breaks a crazy idea in social, how to turn conversations into conversions, and how all of this plays into your overall marketing mix.

Bottom line: there’s room to be great. But being great starts with being bold. And there’s no better place to be bold than in social.

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