Ohio University Strategic Social Media

Crowdsourced Learning Lab #ouj4530

Category: Jonathan Mackall

SXSW Panel: Scandinavian Digital Marketing Secrets

by Jonathan Mackall


Late Thursday afternoon I, along with dozens of others, descended upon room 11AB in the Austin Conference Center for a panel run by Nikoo Sadr of Music Ally, entitled “Mamma Mia! Scandinavian Digital Marketing Secrets”. Sadr spent much of the panel lecturing on marketing strategies which utilized Spotify- arguably Northern Europe’s biggest digital export.

Given the fact that Spotify was spawned in Sweden, its overall share of the legal music consumption market in Scandinavia is much higher (proportionally) than in the USA. Furthermore, its use is more widespread in most Northern and Western European nations than in the Americas. Thusly, some of the most successful digital campaigns using Spotify have come from European bands and managers. Artists like Veronica Maggio and Linnea Henriksson worked with Spotify to promote upcoming releases using “drip feed” campaigns. These campaigns involve releasing a new song (often with new artwork) each day leading up to the full album’s release. This system was shown to increase back catalogue streaming 50 to 75% leading up to the new album’s release date.

Not only are artists using Spotify to increase their listenerbase, but Spotify itself uses clever campaign strategies to increase its brand awareness in various regions. Spotify uses its curation team to help create custom-tailored playlists to fit almost any event- regional or not, often times to much success. For example, Spotify quickly posted a playlist for an event in Northern England called “Drummond Puddle Watch”, wherein a humongous naturally-formed puddle was lived streamed via Periscope as it stumped those who tried to cross it.

Spotify is also working together with certain artists to help them increase their fan loyalty. One notable tactic used for listener retention is swiped from Pandora- voice messages from artists. Whether it’s about an upcoming single release, or giving more insight on a track or album, hearing the actual artist speak directly to the fan has helped increase loyalty for many. For example, Melissa Horn, a Swedish pop artist, doubled her projected album streams upon release after placing spoken word messages to fans on Spotify.

While Spotify has been used very successfully by many Scandinavian marketers, it’s not without its flaws, Sadr admitted. The service isn’t interactive at all, leaving out social integration almost entirely. Furthermore, its search engine is pretty deeply flawed (although some artists have used the broken search to their advantage for campaigns). From an artists’ standpoint, Spotify also has no built in method for tracking royalties in real-time- one must turn to outside services to gather such data.

So while Spotify has its issues, it’s a powerful tool for digital marketers, and has been proven successful in its nontraditional ability to strengthen artists’ fanbases. Marketers are able to work with Spotify as a platform/tool and with its team as a company both to create unique and engaging digital campaigns.

Domino’s Launches Emoji-Based Ordering System

By Jonathan Mackall


In early May 2015, the official Domino’s Twitter account went silent, save for a bunch of pizza emojis and punctuation. Raising the interest of thousands, Domino’s remained silent for two days on the matter. Finally, on May 14, 2015, they tweeted out a link to a news story detailing their new promotion.

One of the teaser tweets

One of the teaser tweets

This new promotion, however, wasn’t about some new pizza topping or sandwich- they launched it on Twitter for a reason. Domino’s was on the verge of rolling out a new feature wherein Twitter users could simply tweet a pizza emoji to Domino’s official account, and receive their favorite order via delivery. While this does require some setup on the user’s end through Domino’s website, in the long run it effectively reduces the ordering process to a single tweet (plus a confirmation through a direct message). To quote Domino’s CEO Patrick Doyle, “It’s the epitome of convenience… We’ve got this down to a five second exchange.”

While Domino’s new ordering system may seem gimmicky at first glance, it was made with purpose. According to Digital Training Academy, the company’s goal was to reach the “younger generation of consumers who are used to instant, wordless communication”. With this customer base understanding how to communicate a lot through very little, Domino’s was able to utilize their digital communication prowess and make pizza ordering a one step, no brainer process.

One further benefit of the tweet-to-order system is the fact that it’s public. Ordering a pizza through any other means is effectively a private process. On the flip side, a tweet is inherently a very public form of communication. Thusly, Domino’s gets to enjoy the added benefit of each sale promoting their campaign, raising awareness to each customer’s followers, as pointed out by ComputerWorld.

Domino’s also launched a second half to this campaign which half-jokingly, half-seriously targeted older generations who may not be as “emoji literate”. Through a fake public service announcement posted to YouTube and a separate website, Domino’s attempted to bring in non-digital natives to their tweet-to-order campaign by offering emoji flashcards, which are meant to test and tutor one’s understanding of speaking without words. While the entire ordeal was fairly tongue-in-cheek, they were actually offering physical decks of the flashcards for free.

Overall, the campaign was undeniably a social win. On the first day alone, 500 orders were placed via the tweet-to-eat system. Alongside this, the tweets associated with the campaign all received thousands of likes and retweets, showing clear customer support of the idea. Personally, I see the most genius in the fact that the order is a fairly public ordeal- it’s not particularly often that food purchases can double as free promotion for a restaurant, especially in the digital age. Furthermore, the system is relatively foolproof, as the direct-message verification step makes it more difficult to accidentally pocket-dial yourself a pizza. The only thing I could really think of to improve the campaign would be to expand to Snapchat, given that it’s gained so much traction with the demographic they’re already targeting.




Beck, M. (2015, May 13). Domino’s Pizza Uses Emoji Storm To Tease Twitter-Triggered Delivery. Retrieved from http://marketingland.com/dominos-pizza-uses-emoji-storm-to-tease-twitter-triggered-delivery-128689


Digital Training Academy. (n.d.). Cannes Lions Case Study: Domino’s emoji pizza orders. Retrieved from http://www.digitaltrainingacademy.com/casestudies/2015/07/cannes_lions_case_study_dominos_emoji_pizza_orders.php


Gianatasio, D. (2015, July 20). These Emoji Flashcards from Domino’s Will Teach You How to Talk to Your Kids. Retrieved from http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/these-emoji-flashcards-dominos-will-teach-you-how-talk-your-kids-165996


Horovitz, B. (2015, May 14). Domino’s to roll out tweet-a-pizza. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2015/05/12/dominos-pizza-tweet-a-pizza-twitter-tweet-to-order-fast-food-restaurants/27175005/


Lorenz, T. (2015, May 12). Soon you can order a pizza by tweeting the pizza emoji at Domino’s. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/dominos-emoji-pizza-order-2015-5


Schuman, E. (2015, May 21). Domino’s tweet-to-eat campaign is sneaky social media at its best. Retrieved from http://www.computerworld.com/article/2925500/retail-it/dominos-tweet-to-eat-campaign-is-sneaky-social-media-at-its-best.html


Sea World’s Brand Continues to Decline After Disastrous Twitter Campaign

By Jonathan Mackall

In Spring 2015, SeaWorld launched a social media campaign entitled “#AskSeaWorld” in an effort to help improve their brand image. Since the release of 2013’s Blackfish, a documentary about SeaWorld’s unethical practices, their brand has been in decline. Thus, #AskSeaWorld was meant to be a chance for the company to explain itself in plain terms to social media-goers. Unfortunately, due to their horrible mismanagement of the campaign, it only served to further damage their brand.

When the campaign first launched through Twitter, the hashtag was immediately inundated with people critical of SeaWorld’s practices. People tweeted at them by the thousand questioning their treatment of animals (specifically killer whales in many cases). In what could have been a constructive moment for the brand, SeaWorld’s PR team chose to attack those who asked too critical of questions, rather than actually fielding anything of substance. In fact, they didn’t even put in the effort to respond to their detractors directly- they posted their dismissive comments basically as blanket statements directed at the very people engaging with their campaign.

A screenshot of Sea World's twitter. Sea World posted a meme and dismissive comment about the people using their hashtag to ask critical questions

Sea World’s tasteful marketing

Seaworld posts on twitter calling their detractors "trolls and bots"

Professionalism at its finest

Referring to dissenters as “trolls” who were “jacking (their) hashtag”, SeaWorld attempted to shame these people by posting memes about them. Thusly, instead of actually answering any questions that really needed to be addressed, SeaWorld dismissed them- a move that caused enough public outcry and backlash that it got picked up by CNN. Alongside this, an organic hashtag even bubbled up around the controversy- #AnswertheQ – which referred to SeaWorld’s belligerence in responding to people in their campaign.

This campaign exemplifies something beyond a social fail- it was just a plain disaster. SeaWorld’s intent was simply to answer people’s questions relating to their treatment of animals in order to gain some direly needed good press, as Blackfish’s scathing portrait of the company’s treatment of captive killer whales had hurt attendance in recent years. And, rather than answer the questions about ethics that needed to be answered, they simply sabotaged their own campaign by both acknowledging and dismissing the questions.

In the months following the campaign, SeaWorld has only continued to spiral the drain. While attendance has been steadily on the decline, profits have plunged downwards 84% as of this year amidst the company’s 10 million dollar marketing campaign to improve their image. Furthermore, they’re dumping millions of dollars dollars into a new exhibit involving its killer whales, in spite of the fact that they’ve also announced an end to the orca exhibits by 2017. While this social media faux pas hurt SeaWorld’s public image, it’s impossible to know whether it has tangibly impacted the company’s profits.

I don’t think the campaign itself was a bad idea, it just needed to be managed far better. If I were in charge, I would have attempted to train this (apparently extremely well funded) PR team to handle backlash professionally and with tact. Furthermore, if I were SeaWorld, I would have really only launched this campaign if the company was actually ready and able to answer the tough questions (which they obviously weren’t). SeaWorld is at a moment in its lifespan that’s sink or swim- and this social fail is very telling of which direction they’re headed.




Coffee, P. (2015, March 27). #AskSeaWorld Reputation Campaign Fails Miserably. Retrieved from www.adweek.com

Lobosco, K. (2015, March 27). ‘Ask Sea World’ marketing campaign backfires. Retrieved from money.cnn.com

Martin, H. (2015, November 5). SeaWorld to open new attraction in bid to reverse declining attendance. Retrieved from www.latimes.com

Neate, R. (2015, August 6). SeaWorld sees profits plunge 84% as customers desert controversial park. Retrieved from www.theguardian.com

Ottenhoff, M. (2015, March 30). How Not to Respond to Negative Social Backlash: Lessons from Sea World. Retrieved from www.thesparkreport.com

Sola, K. (2015, March 27). #AskSeaWorld Campaign Pretty Much Goes How You’d Expect. Retrieved from www.huffingtonpost.com

Spinelli, M. (2015, November 9). SeaWorld Announces Plan to Phase Out Killer Whale Show by 2017. Retrieved from www.abcnews.go.com