Nokia was once a big player in the wireless world. You probably had your first mobile phone from Nokia and ‘snake’ was probably your favorite game. But, farewell Nokia, everybody now either has an iPhone, or a Samsung, LG …
In fact, Nokia once had a touchscreen smartphone N8 that was seen as the first true competitor to the iPhone. In order to push the new phone to achieve sales figures in addition to brand awareness, Nokia adopted a strategy that was innovative by then: to leverage the new and relatively unexplored territory of social media in a ground-breaking campaign for the N8.
The strategy itself, essentially, was well developed. Research and data laid the groundwork: snowboarding was one of the most watched sports at the Winter Olympics; the N8 was thus aimed to influence as well as become an integral part of the life of the snowboarding community.
Nokia partnered with Burton, the most popular snowboarding brand, to develop sensors that could be attached to the snowboard and connected to the N8. Snowboarders can use the N8 to measure metrics and to compare performance with peers by sharing the information on social networks.
There are some highlights of the campaign: social media was used by Nokia to reach customers when Apple and Samsung were still cautious about it; buzzes were created around the product in the snowboarding community; some UGC content were generated to further engage fans; the idea aligns with N8’s key features: its power, precision and capabilities such as high-resolution pictures.
The campaign resulted in an improvement of 3.25% in brand preference and an increase of 14% in device preference. Analysis showed that incremental ROI was 1:13 on the investment made. The campaign reached approximately 290 million people across the world through social media platforms. Sales went up: more than 4 million units of the N8 were sold in the year following the launch. (Source: HBR)
But the fact is, barely anyone uses Nokia phones.
What went wrong then? In fact, Nokia was unable to adapt to the new trend: it waited a year after the launch of the original iPhone to unveil its first touchscreen phone, the Nokia 5800. In terms of the N8, the product seemed to be poorly designed: the snowboarding community is often perceived as cool and edgy but the product didn’t align with the traits of the community. Focusing solely on the snowboarding community might also have limited the product positioning and prevented broader sales.
Perhaps Nokia should learn from what Redbull did to engage its customers. While most of its customers are not those who participate in extreme sports, the company utilizes YouTube to provide videos to their subscribers using different extreme sports in a video series. In addition to Red Bull’s extreme sports videos, Red Bull also live-streamed events such as Lollapalooza. This marketing scheme takes advantage of social media but focuses on how to align its brand offer with the campaigns they push. Not solely on a small group of people.