How RadioShack Made Their Twitter Sponsored Trend Go Viral

by | Oct 10, 2011

Originally published at

You expect young tech startups and hip software companies to lead the way when it comes to social media. So it’s a nice surprise to see an exciting campaign coming from more established brands. RadioShack, a 90-year-old retail brand, has been dusting off its image in big ways and its use of social media has been no exception.

At a recent social media conference, Adrian Parker presented a session on “How RadioShack is Leveraging Social Media to Create Connections and Drive Growth.” Parker took the stage with exuberance—the kind that puts the audience at ease—and began describing RadioShack’s “retired gadgets” campaign and shared some interesting stats.

Did You Know…

• 40% of Facebook updates and 37% of Twitter updates are made via mobile devices
• More than half of all American homes have $100 worth of retired technology
• Bill Gates wrote the code for RadioShack’s TRS80
• Radio Shack sold the first mobile phone (but is not responsible for bell bottoms per Parker)
• It’s projected that by Q4 2011 50% of all mobile phones in the U.S. will be smartphones

Ok, so what did RadioShack do with all (most) of the points noted above? It launched the #UNeedANewPhone campaign. RadioShack purchased the hashtag (promoted trend) #UNeedANewPhone and drove awareness about its trade-in program, which offered gift cards [or discounts on new electronics] in exchange for old mobile devices.

Campaign Results:

• Increased awareness of phone trade-in program
• #1 trending topic worldwide (organic)
• 65 million impressions
• 9% engagement rate
• Double digit wireless sales (3 days)
• 3X Web traffic to its upgrade checker (3 days)

Why the Campaign was Awesome

There are several factors that made this campaign successful, but let’s focus on the hashtag. Notice “U” was used instead of “you,” which shows a clear understanding of the character limitations and casual style of conversation found on Twitter.  RadioShack also used an unbranded hashtag, which definitely contributed to making it viral organically.

The content was highly relatable and sharable because many of us have had, or know someone who still has, an outdated Zach Morris-style mobile phone (#UNeedANewPhone). What can we learn? If you want your hashtag to go viral, make it more shareable and ownable by keeping it unbranded and conversational.

On Another Hashtag…

In a discussion on hashtags, it was fitting that Parker had his own. He hashtagged the session #stayingsocial and offered an iPad 2 to the person with the most “provocative” Tweet. I absolutely love when a speaker does this, but you have to have the content to back it up (he did) or you’ll hear metaphorical crickets from the audience on Twitter.

The session-specific hashtag is great because it allows a hyper-focused conversation to take place and it’s much easier for historical references after the conference. For example, I was able to search #stayingsocial and review all of the Tweets from Parker’s session instead of having to sift through the entire ANA conference hashtag. So, not only does The Shack get social, but also Parker, RadioShack’s presenter, made his presentation social. He gets it, too. Double props.





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