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All aboard with social media: how one campaign resulted in success for Arctic challenge

By The Drum Team, Editorial

Carswell Gould



November 25, 2011 | 7 min read

This case study outlines the social media strategy behind the Arctic Challenge, a six-day adventure to the Arctic developed by marketing communications agency Carswell Gould for RIBs (Rigid Inflatable Boats) to the Limit.

How do you get 2 million people interested in inflatable boats? That was the question marketing communications agency, Carswell Gould, was asked by the organisers of RIBs to the Limit, the Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) industry's biggest event earlier this year.Using digital and social marketing plus a few traditional tricks, the team developed the GORE-TEX Arctic Challenge, an event that saw eight people travel 1,000 miles from Scotland to the Arctic Circle in two tiny RIBs over six days between June 28 and July 3, 2011, ʻliveʼ on the internet.
The key client objectives were to:
  • Create awareness and increase understanding of the capability, flexibility and enjoyment of Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs)
  • Inspire people to get outside and on the water
  • Deliver a real return on sponsorsʼ investments and make the challenge a visible success.
The communications budget was extremely limited and there was no existing infrastructure in place. However, the agency made up for it in passion, using some clever planning and delivering exciting, varied and live content to follow and interact with. The overall strategy therefore had to centre around using low-cost and efficient social and digital platforms to cover all cover types of content that would be created in order to present a ʻfull viewʼ of the challenge.The overall strategy also included:
  • Letting people access content in various ways to suit their needs
  • Targeting and approaching third party advocates to promote and use content, increasing visibility
  • Tying in with traditional press to promote the channels
  • Ensuring as close to 100% live updates as possible on the website by feeding content as the challenge happened and by planning for internet ʻblack spotsʼ
In order to carry out the strategy Carswell Gould, an integrated agency which delivers everything from print design, traditional PR and advertising to social media, email marketing and web development, used a variety of marketing tools and tactics.Comms hubCarswell Gould used social blogging tool, Tumblr, to create the central site as it was cost effective and allowed for a more social online presence.

Central site

Crew member Ed Gould used this on the fly, via mobile and laptop on and off the RIB. He said: “Generally access to broadband was good on land as we stopped off each night in various villages along the coast. However, connection to the Internet was trickier on the water. We used a mixture of 3G on mobile devices and satellite communications to update from the RIBs but there were times when we had no access to the internet, which meant a few long nights at B&Bs during the stopovers. Sitting up uploading videos until the early hours of the morning definitely took its toll towards the end of the challenge and there were a few dark circles under my eyes by the end of it!”The use of Tumblr also meant the blog could be updated by multiple managers and content creators so Carswell Gould’s ‘land team’ back in the UK was able to update the site from telephone conversations with the team at any point.The site had 2,388 visits and 4,031 page views over the six days and has had 7,000 visits and 13,700 page views in total to date.Carswell Gould on boardCarswell Gould’s Ed Gould went on the challenge to ensure quality content, live updates and smooth running of the campaign. After eight hours at sea each day, Ed would add more blogs, images, video clips and report back to CG HQ.

Ed Gould filming on the boat

This meant that each day hundreds of photos were uploaded to Flickr, daily blogs and videos were uploaded to YouTube and the core site and tweets and status updates were sent live from the water.Additional channelsFlickr, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube offered additional targeting and content solutions. Carswell Gould fed content both from and to the comms hub. By monitoring all channels the team was able to spread the word further via other peopleʼs groups.Social media targeting strategyAs well as targeting individuals, groups and companies talking about RIBs, Carswell Gould also targeted those talking about adventure, challenges and other key words to ensure spread of message to relevant people.Carswell Gould targeted key bloggers on the subject of RIBs and supplied them with content for their sites. The team used social media as a way of feeding journalists with information and content.Senior Account Executive, Laura Downton, said: “Giving journalists the ability to download images and videos direct from social media sites meant we had a much faster and higher take up of stories. To date we have had more than £139,786.77 worth of press coverage and around 100 stories featured. I’m positive that the way we fed the information had a lot to do with these figures.”Extended coverageTo ensure a wider reach of message and promote RIBs to a national consumer audience, Carswell Gould targeted journalists via Twitter based on their likes and approached Telegraph blogger and columnist Bryony Gordon, bringing her on board as crew. She wrote daily blogs for the Telegraph website and tweets about the challenge, and Carswell Gould helped her get these online in real time and supplied images and photos.

Bryony Gordon's blog

The result was a daily blog on the Telegraph site (2m monthly hits) each linking to the challenge website and key messages conveyed to Bryonyʼs 6,733 Twitter followers through her 150 tweets on the challenge.Ensuring live contentCarswell Gould’s web development team built the worldʼs first tool to allow users to track exactly where the boats were using GPS beacons and display tweets made at these locations. This meant even when there was no mobile signal, the site was updated using GPS technology. GPSocial worked as a safety and comms tool and proved very popular.
Developer Rob McCann said: “It meant we had 100% tracking of the challenge on the Google map on the site, making visitors feel much ‘closer’ to the action. It proved very popular, with 5,414 views during the event and we’re already developing a ‘version two’ for other events, which will cover all social channels.”Results of the campaign:
  • More than 2,616 upload views on YouTube
  • More than 31,000 unique views on Flickr
  • 6,720 monthly active users over June/July 2011 and 96 likes on Facebook
  • 170 followers on Twitter, averaging 100 people clicking through challenge website or associated social media channels daily during challenge. 75 re-tweets over the six days
  • A legacy of online content for the challenge and sponsors that will last forever and is fully tagged and branded
  • A potential campaign reach of more than 18 million
Client TestimonialHugo Montgomery-Swan, head of RIBs to the Limit, said: “Daily communications, creative suggestions and ideas, signing off requests, media feedback etc, all of which supported a total, 360 degrees campaign involving digital, print, online, TV and radio, meant as company principle and project leader I felt wholly confident that every possible PR advantage for the challenge and its sponsors was gained.”This case study has been nominated in the category of Best Travel/Leisure/Sports Social Media Strategy in the Social Buzz Awards

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