It’s not often that I’m presented with a chance to be the “consumer” in a social media promotion. I usually design programs, not necessarily partake in them. But, the tables were turned (and built) when I was asked to be a part of Ikea’s First Annual “Capture the Catalog” Scavenger Hunt, an event aimed at generating awareness for the 2012 catalog.

A select group of South Florida’s social media influencers were invited to participate in this interactive promotion, and it was certainly an honor for me to be among such fine company, including my teammates Agustina Prigoshin, Tati Bengochea and my rbb colleague, Emily Taffel-Schaper.  (We also recruited Rafael Sangiovanni to be a very gracious team cheerleader!)

Teams had to complete 10 mini-challenges inside the Sunrise Ikea store after hours.  The challenges ranged from stuffing our mouths with meatballs to taking pictures in furniture displays. Of course, it wouldn’t be an Ikea challenge if there wasn’t some assembly required. 😉 We also had to tweet tidbits of Ikea information along the way. The team that completed all the challenges and generated the most Twitter impressions via retweets and the team’s unique hashtag won.

Since I came into this affair with a bit of social media marketing experience of my own, I couldn’t help but critique the effectiveness of this campaign along the way. Here are some takeaways along with a mini wishlist of what could have been improved to make this a more well-rounded and uber successful campaign.

ikea scavenger hunt

  • Social media is all about building relationships. Duh.  It’s been said over, and over, and over again. But it’s true. If my team had any chance at winning this, we needed to tap into every relationship we built on Twitter and ask for help. Luckily, we had in place over 7,000 people who were just a DM away.
  • I’ll kiss Ikea until I’m blue in the face! – An important element for a successful online promotion is PASSION! Consumers need to have an emotional connection in order to go that extra-mile to support your cause.  Did I mention how much I love Ikea?
  • A little bit of game layer goes along away! The game layer is this really cool concept in which marketers are challenged to utilize online game mechanics, like communal gameplay and rewards, to motivate real-life action and loyalty. This promotion definitely had game layer written all over it, but most importantly, it carried the promise of a nice hefty prize.  It was hard not to show up with my game face when a $5,000 Ikea gift card was up for grabs.

  • You can’t grow a community overnight. In order for a successful social media program to launch, you need a solid foundation of followers to help you spread the word.  Before you’re ready to begin a big-ticket promotion, make sure to grow a substantial online community and engage them in the fun. If not, you’ll be talking to yourself. While this campaign provided an opportunity for the local Ikea store to elevate its social media presence, it gave little recognition to their social media assets. Although 8 million social media impressions were generated, there was never a clear call to action to connect with the brand on Twitter or Facebook.
  • The “what’s in it for me” factor. Although there was plenty incentive for me to play, was there enough of a reward for those who follow me to participate? How about for those who follow my followers? The game layer could have been extended onto those who participated virtually by offering a prize, such as a bag of free meatballs, or even an Ikea discount coupon. The campaign’s social media impressions could have tripled and would have generated foot traffic for an additional ROI. I always like to think of ways to extend online campaigns offline.
  • Social media is not the silver bullet. Social media should be the extra tool in your kit, not the only tool. There was a missed opportunity by not keeping those who are less social media savvy informed.  It would have been awesome to see more local news coverage. Although the Miami Herald and the Sun-Sentinel were participating as teams, I really wanted to call my mom and say, “Hey mom, I’m live on the 11 o’clock news!”  This was the perfect event to invite television stations to cover.

In summary, it was a fun event to participate in but there was some additional assembly required for a flawless execution.

So how did my team fare? The competition was fierce but I’m happy to report we came in third place and won the team spirit award! Between the four of us and our online friends, we generated more than 1,300 tweets and 900,000 social media impressions in just under two hours!  You can relive the experience by checking out these photos.

Overall, this was a fun campaign and I’m glad I was a part of it. I hope other companies become inspired to do something just as fun!

Special thanks to: Carlos Miller, Marnie Goldberg, Geoffrey Anderson and Maria Alexandra Sanchez for being awesome cheerleaders!