“Hey you, taking photos. Traffic just started moving.”
“Turn tail lights into beautiful light streaks by using a slow shutter speed,” reads a billboard in one of New York City's hot spots for photography. That was just one of the 8,000 photography tips created by Canon USA's social media team for a digital billboard. It was part of a three-day campaign to reach people in New York City's most photogenic spots last December.
“During the holiday season, we've got a lot of tourists in New York City taking photos with their phones. Naturally, it's a great place for Canon to leverage this opportunity and educate them as well,” said Betty Giossi, Senior Manager of Social Media, Email Marketing, and Personalization at Canon USA. To capitalize on that traffic, Canon created #RealTimeTips to show people the difference using a camera can make. They reached their audience through social, digital billboards, street teams, and social influencers.
“The goal was not to deter you from using your cell phone to take pictures, but instead, help you see the difference between a cell phone image and a camera image, and the variety of images you can take on a camera,” said Betty.
The large, digital billboards were reactive to their surroundings.
These digital billboards were dynamic, using incoming data from the weather, traffic reports, and other factors that helped them deliver unique real-time photography tips. Before installation, Betty's team used a heat map to determine which locations received the most traffic, and chose three captivating spots for the billboards, like the Flatiron District, Central Park South, and the Brooklyn Bridge.
Six weeks before launch,Canon's social media team created thousands of photography tips.
Betty says it wasn't as hard as they thought to come up with tips, especially when the team is filled with loyal Canon users. These tips ranged from remembering to remove the lens cap, to complex advice on light and aperture settings. Then, each photography tip was linked to an environmental trigger.
For example, when it was raining, a message would appear on the billboard offering a tip on how to use puddles for reflections. On clear and sunny days, the billboard recommended how to use the right lens. Each piece of advice was followed by the hashtag #RealTimeTips so passerbyers could share their photos online.
Canon deployed street teams near the billboards made up of volunteers and their social media team.
They showed off products for tourists and shoppers to demo and used printers to give them a little souvenir. Street team reps also directed the product testers to a microsite, filled with in-depth knowledge for entry-level and amateur photographers.
By using the hashtag #RealTimeTips, they were able to track online conversations around the event.
Betty says consistent social listening and timely responses to #RealTimeTips played a major role in the campaign's success. They used Lithium Social Web to monitor conversations before, during, and after the event. With this they saw over two million impressions.
As consumers shared their photos online, Canon was quick to reply and redirect them to their microsite. Betty says, “We had a lot of strong engagement simply by being available to people online.”
They also worked with three well-known NYC-based photographers as local influencers.
They doubled their initial goals by strategically selecting photographers with specific criteria. Each influencer has an urban feel to their work and is an avid Canon user. The influencers selected were popular in the area but not necessarily on a national level, with a moderately-sized following. They were allowed to maintain their own voice and use their own platform during the campaign.
“We didn't ask for a lot of content from the influencers, just genuine content,” said Betty. “It really garnered great organic results for us.” With only six influencer posts over the three days, they earned more than one million impressions and 38,000 engagements.
After tracking data for two weeks, Canon found they had surpassed all of their goals.
Betty's team exceeded their KPI goal of 275,000 impressions and 5,000 engagements overall. The average weekly social shares increased by 31 percent.
The campaign was picked up by several media sites, including Adweek, MediaPost, and PetaPixel. This earned Canon 27 million media impressions.
Over the course of three days, they intercepted about 1,000 people who stopped, tested cameras, and used their printers. Over 475 photos were printed on the spot.
While conversion wasn't necessarily the goal, Betty says they saw a lift in traffic on the retail site of the products they had featured out in the street.
Although it only lasted seven days, elements from the campaign continued to live on months later.
The hashtag #RealTimeTips is sustainable and receives engagement on Twitter, offering up photography tips year round. The average time spent on the microsite increased by 1,485 percent during the campaign and continues to receive site traffic months later.
Betty says, “It really gave people a chance to see the power they have behind every photo and how they can leverage that experience.”