PRSSA Focus Writer
Lava Row is a company that shares digital and social media expertise with corporations and small businesses looking to expand their reach through today’s technology. The Des Moines based firm offers consulting, training, and education, as well as strategy planning to its clients. At the PRSSA chapter meeting on September 26, founder of Lava Row, Nathan T. Wright, stopped by to share two examples of how his company used (and is using) social media and outside-the-box thinking to promote Veridian Credit Union.
Before founding Lava Row, Wright became a global phenomenon as the man who sold his soul on eBay. The glass jar,originally a prank, drew attention from news sources around the world before selling for $46. More importantly, as Wright explained, it opened his eyes to the power of social technology and the internet to spread messages, even as early as 2002.
The first case study Wright discussed was a campaign for a new Veridian Credit Union branch in Corralville. Veridian sought to enter the marketplace with a bang.
“They wanted to enter with a big splash, and there were two strong competitors there with big footprints, and who had a lot of loyalty there as well,” said Wright. The plan was to use social media to leverage Veridian above its competition. The concept began with the introduction of the “Surprise Squad,” in Corralville. Anonymity was the name of the game, as a group of disguised Veridian branch members went around Corralville, doing good deeds for what seemed to be no reason.
“They would pay for your gas, they would sort of ‘ambush you,’ right? And do something nice for you,” said Wright. Another company had tried this, but according to Wright, did not use technology to properly document its efforts. Every Surprise Squad deed had a media component – being YouTube videos, tweets, Facebook posts or blogging, to prolong the reach of each deed. Public awareness was also made with leave-behind pamphlets and direct mailing as well.
“People just naturally come in if they’ve been surprised, and they tag themselves in their photos. That really extends the reach…the deed took place, but then it had this afterlife online,” said Wright. Within a month, the “Surprise Squad” Facebook page jumped to 3,000 fans. Wright made it clear that multi-platform campaigns really are where companies are going.
The second effort analyzed again involves Veridian Credit Union. This new campaign invokes participation from University of Northern Iowa students in a challenge based “quest” leading up to a grand prize. This campaign makes use of media outlets like Twitter and YouTube, as well as real-world touch points-requiring students to stop in to the UNI Veridian branch. The quest culminates in a massive real-life scavenger hunt around the time of the UNI homecoming game in late October.
Nathan finished his presentation by reminding students of the importance of social media, and how creative uses of such technology are a necessity to drive a business forward. It seems that the internet has the power to offer a creative mind any business venture it can imagine.