7 Social Insights from the Red Bull Stratos Marketing Campaign

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January 19, 20216 min read

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On October 14, 2012 we witnessed a research mission to the edge of space that was breathtaking for its scope and shocking for the fact that it was orchestrated by a private corporation. The Red Bull Stratos experiment broke scientific barriers, rekindled an era in human history when daredevils ruled the earth, and was inescapably cool. But there is another story here beyond the record books and beautiful aerial photography.

To understand Red Bull Stratos we must acknowledge that at its core this whole experiment was a commercial endeavor. The real objective was to make every person in the world love Red Bull. Only time will tell if Red Bull sales increase commensurate to the Red Bull Stratos marketing spectacle, but we can already see the brand impact of this campaign using the big data processing power of our Social Performance and Campaign Performance Monitor tools.

The answer is that this Red Bull marketing campaign was not only unprecedented scientifically, it was also unprecedented from a brand marketing perspective. Red Bull Stratos is the clearest example we’ve ever seen of the new wave of advocacy driven brand marketing that we call Engagement@Scale. Here is what we learned from Red Bull’s marketing campaign:

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There has never been a social marketing campaign like Stratos

Our Social Performance and Campaign Monitor tools are built upon the most cutting edge big data technology in the world. They simultaneously track the activity of 30,000 brands and 100,000,000 social accounts across every major social platform every 15 minutes every day, but the level of activity associated with this campaign exceeded anything we’ve ever seen. From a vanity metric perspective alone, the campaign was astounding:

Fact 1: 2,000,000 unique consumer actions

There were more than 2,000,000 specifically identifiable consumer actions associated with Red Bull Stratos. Half of those actions (1,000,000 unique consumer actions!) occurred on the day of the jump.

Fact 2: 1,000,000 distinct Stratos participants

1,000,000 distinct user accounts contributed to the social conversation surrounding Red Bull Stratos. If you subscribe to the traditional model that for every 1 person creating content, there are 90 more lurking around and reading it, that suggests an audience of at least 90,000,000 following the campaign.

Fact 3: 2,000,000 new subscribers acquired

2,000,000 new accounts subscribed for Red Bull updates across all brand presences in the space of 15 days. These are engaged and interested subscribers, not ones acquired through display advertising or by gating a piece of content, and are a high quality audience that Red Bull can now directly interact with for months and years to come.

Stratos campaign engagement transcends ‘plus 1’ or ‘like’

There were huge amounts of activity associated with Red Bull Stratos, but more importantly that activity indicated a high level of quality engagement that is quite unusual. Frequently, marketing campaigns are dominated by simple ‘likes’ or neutral commentary from the masses, but Red Bull Stratos was unequivocally positive and elicited meaningful interaction from people around the world.

Fact 4: 820,000 pieces of extremely positive content created

82% of the peak consumer activity associated with Red Bull was unequivocally positive (what we call ‘very positive signal’). On a base of 1,000,000 consumer actions that means there were approximately 820,000 pieces of Red Bull related consumer media that were unequivocally positive. To provide some context on this number in the exact same time period the next best performer was Starbucks with approximately 25% very positive signal.

Fact 5: 400% increase over average length of consumer engagement

Consumer posts and updates created throughout Stratos were not only positive, but they increased in length by more than 400% from standard engagement and only got longer over time. Length of a consumer generated post is a proxy for time and interest in a topic, so this kind of increase is a huge indicator for the depth of engagement within the Stratos audience. People were not just hitting the retweet or like button on status updates. They were actively participating in the world’s largest watercooler conversation.

Fact 6: 50,000 distinct links shared

Red Bull’s marketing stunt remained at the heart of the discussion from start to finish. Dachis Group tracked more than 50,000 distinct links shared in the context of the Stratos campaign. But every one of the top 10 pointed to a Red Bull or Red Bull Stratos digital channel. This is a marketers dream. Stratos didn’t just feature Felix Baumgartner and a fall through the sky, it featured Red Bull branding in the context of nearly every comment or interaction at a massive scale.

Red Bull Stratos’ brand impact was priceless

The most powerful form of brand marketing is trusted consumer generated messaging. By this measure, Red Bull Stratos established new highs for brand marketing in every way.

Fact 7: 61,634,000 trusted impressions generated

Stratos conversation generated more than 61,634,000 likely impressions across social channels. That means Red Bull garnered more than 60 million instances of peer-validated earned media through social as a result of Stratos.

Social Marketing Campaign Conclusion

Marketing has transitioned from a world of broadcast marketing to a world of peer to peer interaction. The future of brand marketing in digital and mobile channels is driven by trusted brand-related engagement (advocacy). Advocacy platforms are now the best way to create purchase intent for brand marketers. The challenge has been to generate advocacy in a scalable way since you can’t just throw money at the problem like you can with broadcast advertising.

Through this lens Red Bull has done something remarkable with Stratos. They’ve created a mass advocacy campaign built on top of more than 60 million trusted consumer impressions – 82% of which were unequivocally positive. It is impossible to achieve this goal with a television advertisement or any other broadcast medium. You can buy impressions, but you can’t buy trust. No company has ever triggered brand advocacy at this scale and short of a similar flawlessly executed spectacle on this scale, it’s unclear that it will ever happen again. In that sense, Red Bull Stratos was a priceless brand experience that will almost certainly impact Red Bull’s business performance in a significant way.

Disclosure: Dachis Group and its subsidiary Archrival have conducted work for Red Bull.

Campaign and Case Study Methodology:

At Dachis Group, we focus on brand outcomes because we know that earned media generated online has a real impact on purchase intent and purchase incidence. Our Social Business Index tracks 30,0000 of the worlds largest brands across more than 100,000,000 social accounts and captures all consumer activity associated with those accounts. In addition, our campaign performance and media monitoring tool can identify interactions that occur around brand generated content or brand-related topics. As a result we have access to a clean, brand-oriented data set that tells us the real brand impact of social marketing campaigns.

This post was authored using data provided by Ray Renteria from Dachis Group’s Social Business Intelligence platform.

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