Lance Armstrong’s Twitter Powers Aid Radio Shack

Hashtags seem to be working for RadioShack. Today the brand is running a promoted trending topic for the #IfIHadSuperPowers hashtag, encouraging users to engage with it for a chance to win prizes including Samsung Tabs, e-Readers, and GPS systems.

The effort follows a similar one involving cycling star Lance Armstrong. The #UNeedANewPhone campaign made use of a promoted trending topic for the hashtag, coupled with a promoted tweet by professional cyclist Lance Armstrong, which included a link to RadioShack’s cell phone products on its website.

The #UNeedANewPhone promoted trending topic ran last Thursday and resulted in a “substantial” lift in sales over the weekend, exceeding Twitter’s own projections in terms of impressions and engagement rate, the retailer said.

Speaking with ClickZ this week the company’s social media manager, Adrian Parker, said it isn’t the first brand to pair a promoted trending topic with a celebrity authored promoted tweet, but the fact that Armstrong has featured in its brand messaging throughout the year added credibility to the initiative. “From a marketing perspective, Lance is a social media lay-up. He’s a core user of Twitter who engages everyday in a very natural, slice-of-life manner that followers love. He doesn’t tweet as a brand, he tweets as a man,” Parker said.

Armstrong cycles for Team RadioShack, so his involvement with the campaign was part of a wider relationship. According to Parker, however, Armstrong himself chooses when to participate with “business items that may be relevant” to him.

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Overall that campaign resulted in 65 million trend impressions, 84,000 mentions, and an engagement rate of 8.8 percent, suggesting almost 9 percent of users exposed to the trending topic chose to click on it, according to data from Twitter. According to RadioShack, the average engagement rate for a promoted trending topic on Twitter lies between 3 percent and 8 percent. Lance Armstrong’s Tweet, meanwhile, generated 100,000 impressions.

According to Parker, RadioShack viewed the campaign as a way to promote engagement around the subject of outdated devices, rather than simply market to consumers through a branded trending topic, for example. “Consumers regularly discuss upgrading their cell phones and tease peers with out-of-date devices. It’s an organically occurring discussion that people have every day, and #UNeedANewPhone was simply our tool to package and participate in the conversation,” he said.

Parker said the company has been in contact with Twitter CEO Dick Costolo following the campaign, and that the platform itself has identified “takeaways” around the benefits of using promoted tweets to ignite a discussion, rather than simply to promote a brand or an offer.

The #UNeedANewPhone trend followed another one purchased by RadioShack on November 25, which included a #ShackFriday hashtag. Thanks to those trends the brand says it grew its number of followers by 38 percent in a 12-day period.

The #IfIHadSuperPowers tag, meanwhile, relates to the brand’s “Holiday Hero” marketing efforts on other social channels such as Facebook and FourSquare. As well as handing out gifts to users who use the tag, RadioShack followers “will become instant Holiday Heroes” when they send Twitpic images of themselves to RadioShack, to which the brand will append capes, masks, suits and other Hero must-haves. Promoted tweets relating to the trending topic will include links to some of RadioShack’s Deals of the Week, as well as gift ideas such as electronic toys.

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