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How the History Channel used Foursquare to build brand awareness

How the History Channel used Foursquare to build brand awareness

Background

AETN is the owner of a network of TV stations, which includes History both here and in the US. For some time now, History in the US has been using location-based check in and deal platform Foursquare to raise brand awareness to good effect. Now the UK team was keen to replicate some of this success on the other side of the Atlantic.

History is also keen to market itself to a younger audience – and identify one way of doing this as by capturing the attention of early adopters who like to access the latest digital technology via their smartphones.

Strategy

This was to be Foursquare’s first deal in association with a TV channel in the UK – making it as much as big a deal for them as it would be for History. Initially, History wanted to look at using the partnership to build brand awareness across the UK, but as Kiera Doherty, digital marketing manager at AETN UK explains, a London-based strategy was eventually decided on.

“We quickly realised that to cover the whole of the UK was a big feat, and that a lot of our fans were based in London, as were a lot of Foursquare fans,” she says.

For consumers, part of Foursquare’s appeal, besides simply being able to check-in and share location details with friends, is to be able to earn "badges" for checking in and then turning these into real life rewards (such as product discounts).

With this in mind, History developed a two-fold strategy in order to gain as many followers as possible – by giving the consumer both something useful and the option to claim deals and discounts around the capital.

Implementation

History identified 600 historical sites around London, all of which Foursquare users would be able to check into to receive quirky and interesting facts on and to earn Foursquare “badges”. The sites ranged from iconic London landmarks such as Piccadilly Circus to museums, parks and art galleries. History hired a researcher who took around nine weeks to compile facts on all of the landmarks.

History also partnered with a number of historical attractions – including the Tower of London and Shakepeare’s Globe Theatre, to offer those who checked in at these places discounts and special offers. Partners displayed promotional postcards in their visitor reception areas, explaining the campaign.

To promote the launch of the Foursquare collaboration, History embarked on a major PR led-campaign. A press launch took place at the Tower of London on February 17 and was followed up with a PR campaign across a number of both digital and tourist themed magazine titles. The launch was promoted on-air and via email lists, plus via History’s social media channels including Facebook and Twitter.

History also made a short video about the project . “We actually found ourselves having to explain internally what it was all about, so we thought, let’s make something simple for the consumer. [so that they understand the project],” says Charlotte Allibone, AETN’s marketing manager. This promo video was loaded onto YouTube, and included in a press pack to journalist at launch, so that it quickly became seeded on a number of blogs and websites.

Over the two long Easter weekends, History also partnered with a number of local London newspapers to promote some of its 600 check-in sites as fun places for Londoners to go.

Results

Within a month of the campaign’s launch, ten thousand people had unlocked History’s badge – equating to the 40,000 check-ins needed in order to achieve those badges.

Before the UK campaign launched, History had 110,000 followers on Foursquare – mostly in the US. That figure rose to 130,000 thanks to just one month’s worth of activity in the UK.

“We’ve  also seen a huge amount of social media and press coverage,” says Doherty. “The general feedback we’ve had from Twitter, and from blogs, is that people are really excited to be involved with it.”

History gleaned initial results from the first month of the campaign that it is now looking to build on. The majority of those who checked in were males aged between 18 and 34. “The next stage will be to look at the frequency of their check-ins and the time of day etc,” says Doherty.

The Tower of London was the most checked-into site.

“Another key benefit of the partnership with Foursquare is the brand association we are getting – there’s a lot of trade and consumer press about the company in the UK and a lot of people keen to find out more”, adds Allibone.

“Our commercial and distribution team have all got very excited about this and are currently looking at other markets of where we can roll this out - maybe into Eastern Europe or other cities in the UK.

“For us this was a brand project. In TV people [mostly] want to know the impact a campaign has on viewing figures, but for us this was about brand awareness and brand associations. We were very clear on what our objectives were and we’ve reached them,” Allibone adds.

The campaign is running until the end of the summer, over which History is hoping to partner with a number of music and food and drink festivals to offer new check-in locations and deals and incentives.

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