What better way to get a store’s social media strategy started than
with a contest tied to a wedding the entire world is watching? On the
day before the royal wedding on April 28, E. B. Horn Jewelers announced
the winner of its three-week “In Search of Boston’s Royal Fairytale”
love story contest. The winning couple received a replica of Kate
Middleton’s famous sapphire and diamond ring (a retail value of
E. B. Horn Jewelers’ royal wedding ring replica
But store owner Michael Finn was a winner in his own right. In three
weeks, his store went from zero to 1,200—Facebook fans, that is. In the
same timeframe they also attracted about 200 followers on Twitter.
Throughout the April contest, there was a huge amount of Facebook
interaction between the store and its current customers, as images,
videos, and stories submitted by contestants were uploaded, shared,
“liked,” and commented upon.
As if that weren’t enough, press coverage was off the charts.
Boston’s media outlets had a fun, local, feel-good news feature story
they could tie into a hugely anticipated international event—a media
Boston Business Journal was one of many local media outlets
that covered E. B. Horn Jewelers’ event
The contest idea got its start when Finn approached his advertising
and PR agency, Conover Tuttle Pace (CTP), about ways to promote his
store’s estate jewelry. Considering E.B. Horn had no social media
strategy to speak of, the contest was a pretty tall order.
During Finn’s meeting with CTP, the royal wedding came up. Finn was
impressed that Prince William had paid homage to his mother, the late
Lady Diana, as well as the time-honored tradition of passing a mother’s
wedding ring to the bride-to-be. It seemed like a natural theme.
The first order of business for Finn was producing a replica of the
famed ring. The store couldn’t make an exact replica because a fine, 18
ct. blue sapphire center stone with diamond accents would be far too
costly. So Finn and his bench jeweler decided to make a “proportional”
18k white gold replica set with an oval 4.62 ct. sapphire with 14 round
brilliant diamond accents (t.w. 1.20 cts.).
To populate the Facebook and Twitter accounts, CTP sent out press
releases to get the promotional ball rolling. Bostonians were told they
had from April 4 to 24 to submit their love stories (in 250 words or
less) with images and/or videos.
The winning profile
The next step was finding the right media partner. E. B. Horn was
already an advertiser with Mix 104.1, a well-known, contemporary radio
station serving Boston and outlying suburban markets. Mix proved to be a
very beneficial partner in the event, said Ali D’Orsi, the account
executive from CTP who worked with Finn to organize the contest. The
station did 15-second and 30-second spots on the contest for two weeks,
and ran some announcements and news stories on the initiative.
Couples submitted their stories through a custom-built microsite
created by CTP, which allowed them to share their photos and videos via
Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube. Entrants could then easily share their
stories with families and friends through their social media networks.
“Shares” and “likes” on Facebook and tweets and re-tweets on Twitter
contributed to entrants’ final scores.
Bostonians responded well: 160 couples told their stories. With a
deadline of April 24, the contest provided just a couple days for the
judges to determine the top 10 love stories. Three local media figures
and Kim Jacobs, wife of Boston Bruins’ executive vice president Charlie
Jacobs, made up the four-judge panel. The judging was based on the
originality and interest of a couple’s story, how creatively their story
was told, and votes from social media websites.
The winning couple, Domenic and Michelle, at a reception held
at the Intercontinental Hotel
After the first round of
judging, the top 10 couples were asked to interview with the contest
judges, another panel of judges representing the cross-promotional
partners, plus the total score from the first round of judging to
determine the winner. In the end, a high school friend-turned sweetheart
love story won the contest.
In the final weeks of the contest, Mix 104.1 proved once
again to be an important cross-promotional partner by bringing in the
Intercontinental Hotel as the venue where the winner would be announced.
For Finn and his staff at E. B. Horn Jewelers, they wisely
capitalized on a huge news event the whole world was watching. They
achieved their promotional goals of becoming better known in their
market, breaking out of the mold of the “traditional jeweler” (they’ve
been in business since 1839) with a mainly social media- and
Internet-based contest, and got the word out about their estate and
custom jewelry departments. Not bad for 21 days of hard work.
E. B. Horn Jewelers store owner Michael Finn addresses the
crowd at the reception